'Set up STF to tackle man-jumbo conflict'

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday directed the Union government to constitute a special task force to find a solution to the man-elephant conflict in Karnataka, especially at Alur range in Hassan.

Hearing a suo motu petition, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen and Justice B V Nagarathna directed the Centre to suggest names of experts within 10 days. The Bench has also directed that the inputs of the counsels, who have impleaded in the matter, be taken into consideration.

Counsels B R Deepak, Ravindra Kamath and Senior Counsel Madhusudan R Naik submitted that the programme to translocate elephants was not a feasible one. Human occupancy around the forest has led to the conflict, Naik said, and pointed out to the State government’s previous submission where it had listed several long term and short term measures to be adopted for solving the problem.

Counsel Deepak in his submission objected to the State government’s stand that there was no other alternative except translocation of animals and pointed out that the Ministry for Environment and Forest (MoEF) was not an authority to permit such experiments and that it had to be cleared only by National Board of Wildlife (NBW).
He even submitted that the Alur reserve had been declared a part of Mysore elephant reserve and the State cannot take a unilateral decision here.

When the Chief Justice sought to know what happened to the short term and long term measures adopted by the State government to mitigate the conflict, government counsel R G Kolle submitted that an affidavit pertaining to the status of implementation has already been filed before the Court.

Meanwhile, the Union government in its memo before the court has submitted that in a meeting dated December 15, 2011, in New Delhi it was decided that a task force will be constituted in consultation with the people affected.

According to the submission made by Assistant Solicitor General of India S Kalyan Basavraj, assistance of international elephant experts will also be sought.

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