A herd of around 30 elephants damaged houses rendering seven families homeless in Rengali block of Sambalpur district and Kolabira block of neighbouring Jharsuguda district.
With their corridor shut by boundary wall of industries in the two districts, the elephants are intruding into human habitations in search of food.
According to reports, the herd strayed into Pipalpada and Dalpatpali in Rengali block on Friday night and damaged the houses of Hrushikesh Sunani, Bighneswar Sunani, Sushama Bhanja, Santosh Bhanja and Kunduru Deep. They devoured the paddy stalks stacked in the yard near the houses besides damaging utensils, bicycles, motorcycles and domestic articles.
The villagers’ efforts to chase away the herd proved futile. The homeless villagers have taken shelter in Dalpatpali Primary School.
Similar reports have also been received from Mangrapali village under Kolabira block of Jharsuguda district where the same herd damaged two houses owned by Nityanand Bag and Danara Sandha on Saturday night rendering the two families homeless.
Sources said the village shares border with Jharsuguda forest range from where the herd had trooped in. The movement of the herd has been restricted to Rengali and Kolabira and the Forest Department has pressed a special squad to prevent the elephants from entering villages. Rengali Tehsildar Lambodar Dharua admitted that houses of five families have been completely demolished and 14 members of the families have taken shelter in the primary school. “Free kitchen has been opened to provide food to the affected families who have been given other relief materials,” he said and added that they have moved the Collector requesting him to sanction houses under ‘Mo Kudia Yojana’ to the affected families.
Range Officer of Rengali Forest Range SC Khuntia, who visited the village for spot assessment on Sunday, said a report on the damage would be submitted to the District Forest Officer and the Collector basing on which the affected families will be compensated.
He also admitted that the corridor of the elephants has been blocked by boundary walls of several industries and because of degradation of the corridor, the elephants are intruding into the villages.