Chhattisgarh to 'experiment' offering surplus paddy to wild elephants

Express News Service
RAIPUR: Apparently in a fix over usage and consumption of the huge quantity of procured paddy, the Chhattisgarh government has gone for yet another experiment to use the surplus quantity to feed wild elephants.

The Chhattisgarh State Cooperative Marketing Federation that executes the work of paddy procurement under support price scheme has written to the forest department over making available the paddy procured during 2019-20 in those districts witnessing the movement of wild tuskers.

“We already have surplus paddy and there is no harm in carrying such experiment to utilise the stored paddy so as to minimise the man-animal conflict”, said Amarjeet Bhagat, the state food minister.

The programme is to be executed by the respective divisional forest officers (DFOs) of Gariyaband, Balod, Sarguja, Raigarh, Surajpur, Korba, Dhamtari, Kanker and Mahasamund. They have been apprised regarding the availability of paddy at various procurement centres at a high price Rs 2095 per quintal.

Since last year, Chhattisgarh has been endeavouring to sell the un-allocated (surplus about 20.5 LMT) paddy through auction at a base rate of Rs 2035 in open market. But so far the state has not received an encouraging response and is procuring at Rs 2500 per quintal from paddy farmers.

However, the wildlife enthusiasts were surprised over such a decision. “How could such initiative going to check the human-elephant conflicts or safeguard the human habitats? Never heard any such conservation experiment taken up as a project towards wildlife or elephant management. The state just intends to use the surplus paddy. If the paddy gets damaged or rot, the elephants are intelligent enough never to consume it”, affirmed Nitin Singhvi, wildlife enthusiast. 

“The paddy will be bought by the DFOs, if required. We are starting it on a pilot project initially”, said P V Narasimha Rao , PCCF (Wildlife).