Keonjhar: Forest officials have devised novel means to help elephants use the underpasses of National Highway-20 and 49 to cross the roads passing through Keonjhar district, a report said. In order to draw the pachyderms towards the underpasses, the officials are scattering elephant faeces along the path. They have also planted banana plants and paddy saplings along some of the underpasses to attract the mammals to take the route.
This step has been taken after elephants were found facing trouble crossing the National Highways 20 and 49, which are frequently congested due to heavy traffic. Officials are hoping that these steps will help animals cross the highways safely and also prevent casualties.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has constructed underpasses at various places of both the highways. However, it was frequently seen that the animals did not use the crossing points to reach the other side. In light of the challenges faced by the pachyderms, the Forest department took the decision to use the new techniques.
Forest officials are hopeful that the animals will take the underpasses after getting smell of their faeces. They are also of the opinion that the banana plants and paddy saplings on the underpasses will help the animals get their preferred food for which they will take the underpass instead of waiting in herds to cross the highways during traffic snarls.
A few years ago, three elephants were killed after they were hit by a cargo truck and a passenger bus in Ghatagaon area while they were crossing NH-20.
Moreover, the animals often find it difficult to cross the highway due to large number of vehicles and cargo trucks parked on the roadsides. As a result, the jumbos remain confined to the nearby jungles and destroy lives and properties by entering the nearby human habitats at night.
When contacted, Keonjhar DFO HD Dhanaraj said the elephants are reluctant to accept the underpasses. Hence, an initiative was taken to attract the animals by planting their fodder so that once they use the path they will do so every time.