Forest Dept blames APDCL for jumbo death (Jorhat District, India)


The Assam Tribune

Date Published
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JORHAT: A female adult elephant was electrocuted at the Katanibari division of Sycotta Tea Estate under Mariani range of the Jorhat forest division late last night after the animal came in contact with a high tension electricity cable belonging to the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) that passes through the garden.

The Forest Department has blamed the APDCL for the incident as the height of the cable passing through the garden was considerably low, posing a grave threat to humans and wildlife.

The forest authorities said the APDCL has reportedly not paid any heed to the repeated requests made by the department concerned to raise the height of the cable to avoid any fatal incidents. In a similar incident in November 2013, two jumbos were electrocuted in another area of the garden.

Range officer (Mariani) Pradip Gogoi told The Assam Tribune today that the elephant, which was part of the herd that often strays out of the nearby Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, was killed after the animal’s head came in contact with the cable, which was at a height of below eight feet.

He said the incident occurred at the Sasan Ghat area of the garden which was near the Bhogdoi River.

Gogoi said his department has written to the APDCL several times, requesting the latter to raise the height of the power cable, but to no avail. He said the matter was discussed at a meeting convened last month by the Titabar sub-divisional administration and the APDCL officials were directed to increase the height of the power cable immediately.

The range officer said the APDCL officials and staff today visited the spot and were sternly told to do the needful. He further said he has written a letter to the APDCL authorities stating that the Forest Department will be compelled to file FIR against the APDCL for negligence, if corrective steps were not taken urgently.

Gogoi said post mortem of the carcass was conducted on the spot and the dead jumbo was buried there as per the department’s rules.

The Mariani range under which the wildlife sanctuary falls is also one of the worst man-elephant conflict zones in Assam. Elephant herds often stray out of the sanctuary and destroy crops and vegetation in adjoining villages and tea gardens, especially in winter.

According to the Forest Department records, over 770 people were killed by wild jumbos in Assam in the last 10 years of which around 20 people were killed in the Mariani range. Elephants have also died in the area by electrocution or were killed by speeding trains.