A female elephant and her calf got electrocuted due to low-hanging
high tension wire inside the core area of Rajaji Tiger Reserve. The
cow got electrocuted when her raised trunk came in contact with the
wire while the calf was touching her, leading to their deaths in the
Haridwar range of the reserve.
The sighting of the carcasses after three to four days of the incident
also raised questions over patrolling by forest staff. Dinesh Uniyal,
range officer, said a forest team traced the carcass of mother and
baby elephant from the stench.
Rajiv Mehta, honorary wildlife warden of Rajaji has raised his
concerns saying that had the patrolling practice been done regularly
then the team would not only have known about the sagging high-tension
power lines but also have spotted the carcasses much earlier.
Meanwhile, the electricity department has also come under the scanner
for keeping the wire dangling allegedly at an height of 13 feet, in
contravention to the stipulated height of 17 feet inside the reserve.
The forest officials have lodged a case against Meeruth Koteshwar link
engineer of the power department.
Sources said that at many places inside the reserve high-tension wires
can be seen at low heights. Most of these are old wires or have sagged
from climatic conditions like heat and swaying from strong winds.
Over two years ago, another elephant was also electrocuted outside the
Director of Rajaji Tiger Reserve, Sanatan denied fault on part of the
forest staff. “There are only 147 forest staff to patrol hundreds of
kilometres in Rajaji. So, it is not possible to keep a track of every
site on daily basis.”
However, he blamed the power department for the deaths saying the
department should have ensured that the power lines were erected
within the stipulated heights of 17 feet. He said that forest
department has lodged a case under the Wildlife Protection Act against
the erring official. Sources at the power department said an enquiry
will be conducted in this case.