The Forest department has decided to install hanging solar fences at Marayur and Kanthaloor panchayats in Idukki to tackle man-animal conflict. According to officials, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has allotted a total of ₹4.70 crore for the project.
Maryaur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) M.G. Vinod Kumar said that the department submitted a proposal before the NABARD to prevent wild animal attacks in Marayur and Kanthaloor panchayats. “NABARD has approved the project and allotted ₹2.70 crore for fixing a 20-km-long hanging solar fence in Kanthalloor. The fences will be installed from Thoovanam waterfalls to the border of Anamudi Shola in Kanthaloor panchayat. Another ₹2 crore has been allotted for fixing 15-km-long fence at Karimutty area of Marayur panchayat,” said Mr. Vinod Kumar.
“Panchayat officials and farmers will participate in the project. In addition, solar fences will be linked to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) grid to ensure uninterrupted power supply during rainy season. Wild elephants destroy normal solar fencing and enter human habitations. We hope the hanging solar fences will deter them from foraying into human habitations,” said the official.
“Additionally, Marayur forest division has received ₹70 lakh under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) scheme for installation of hanging solar fence,” Mr. Vinod Kumar said,
Meanwhile, tribespeople at a settlement in Kanthalloor have already started installing solar fences in their farms at their own cost. A recent tribal heads meeting at Keezhanthoor settlement under Kanthaloor panchayat decided to install the fences to prevent wild elephant attacks.
Keezhanthoor ward member A.R. Subrahmanyan said the work on the 2-km-long solar fence has already begun. “Each family in the settlement has joined the initiative. Both normal life and farming have been badly affected due to recurrent wild elephant attacks over the last one year,” said Mr. Subrahmanyan.
Kanthalloor panchayat president P.T. Mohandas said increased wild elephant attacks has forced many farmers to quit farming. “A total of 18 wild elephants are camping in Kanthalloor, Kulachivayal, Perumala and Keezhanthoor,” said Mr Mohandas.