78 jumbos electrocuted in State since '08

Power utilities accused of not adhering to electricity rules

Even as elephants dying after coming in contact with electric wires has become common in the State, agencies concerned have not taken concrete measures to prevent such incidents.

Besides, they have not initiated stern action against those responsible for the death of elephants.

As many as 78 elephant deaths were recorded between 2008-09 and 2012-13 (up to August end). Of these, only five cases have resulted in convictions.
The number of acquittals on the other hand is 14. While, 34 cases are pending trial in various courts, 25 cases are still under investigation.

As many as 20 deaths were recorded in 2008-09; 21 in 2009-10; 13 in 2010-11; 15 in 2011-12 ; and nine in the current year. However, the State forest department has failed to compile statistics pertaining to the status of the cases of elephant deaths prior to the year 2008.

In the recent years, a majority of the deaths were registered in Mysore and Chamarajanagar. Each district lost 24 elephants in the last four years due to electrocution. Such unnatural deaths are also common in Kodagu and Hassan districts, where the man-animal conflict has reached an all- time high, owing to factors such as shrinking forest spaces, increase in elephant population and lack of effective intervention by authorities.

Ajay Mishra, Director, Project Elephant, Karnataka, said despite a series of meetings, the energy department had failed to even adhere to the Central electricity guidelines. He said that power utilities had failed to take adequate measures all along the elephant corridor and in the elephant ranges to avoid instances of the elephants coming in contact with high voltage poles or sagging wires.

The department is required to fix poles firmly, reduce sagging of wires, put in place an auto tripping mechanism and increase vigilance. He also said the department had failed to curb the increasing instances of illegal connections and tapping of wires.

“Often farmers are seen anchoring live wires in their farm lands in the middle of the night, making it difficult for the department to monitor such activities. We have repeatedly asked the energy department to form squads and introduce patrolling,” he said.

Mishra said the police department, which was required  to follow up on the cases booked, had failed to see many of the cases through, resulting in piling up of cases in courts. There was also need for expediting court cases, for which the department had proposed the setting up of a fast track court, he added.

Shikha C, Managing Director, Chamundi Electricity Supply Company (CESC) said that in the last two months the company had monitored the situation on a daily basis. She said that about 1,000 new poles had been erected recently, ensuring that there was minimum ground clearance.

She also said that CESC had formed about 16 mobile vigilance squads to ensure that the farmers were not indulging in illegal activities.

“We are doing everything in our capacity to ensure that the elephant corridor is rid of the existing problems,” she added.

Cases of unnatural deaths of elephants are registered under the Wildlife Protection Act, Indian Electricity Act and Indian Penal Code. 

The forest department, which claims to be making concerted efforts in booking cases and following them up, says that the main hindrance is the negligent attitude of the energy and police departments.

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