Forest dept files case against CESC for elephant deaths (Kodagu District, India)


Bosky Khanna, Deccan Herald

Date Published

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Following the electrocution of four elephants at an estate in Kodagu on Tuesday, the Forest department has filed a case of abetment and hunting against Chamundeshwari Electricity Corporation Limited (CESC).

This is the second such case filed against the power supply corporation this year. This time the Forest department has filed a case after four female elephants came in contact with a snapped high tension live wire at Ammathi Vontiangadi village in Virajpet, Kodagu and died on the spot on Tuesday. 

Manoj Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests, Kodagu Circle, told DH that the case was filed against Cesc and not the estate owner as the deaths were not because of his negligence. A vigilance committee has also been formed to investigate the case. The committee will file a report detailing the causes and practical remedies. 

During an interaction with Ravi Kumar, additional chief secretary, Environment, Forest and Ecology, in Kodagu on Wednesday, the Energy department showed interest in joining hands with the Forest department to shift all the existing and new cables under ground. 

“Shifting of cables will cost around Rs 3,000 crore. Instead, the department can spend Rs 200 crore on strengthening and enhancing forest areas and corridors. Following the high court orders, the power supply companies have invested crores of rupees in erecting 22,000 poles to ensure that cables are not hanging, posing threat to the elephants. But this has shown limited effect,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the Forest department has intensified the search for land around the forest patches and near the elephant corridors to purchase them and increase the forest patch. A senior Forest department official said that since the estate owners are also worried, getting land with the funds assured by the state government will be easy and quick. 

“We have also started training estate owners and workers on how to react when confronted with an elephant. Erecting more fences will only aggravate the problem. There is a need for people to understand the problem. The department has spent around Rs 1 crore towards crop loss compensation in last one year. The number of conflict cases have also increased. Due to drought over the last two years, some estate owners have extended their support in helping us resolve man-elephant conflict,” Kumar added. 

WhatsApp group formed 

For the first time, the Forest and Energy departments together have created a WhatsApp group for Kodagu division. They have brought all the ground staff of both the departments together to give quick ground information and provide timely help.