The wildlife wing of the forest department had identified a 420.8km corridor for the pachyderms in 2010 and sent it to the government for its approval.
Six years have passed since then. But the government is yet to send it to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change for their approval and notification.
As per rules, the state government brings out a notification after the Centre’s nod. This entails that the elephant passage is acceptable legally. In the absence of a notification, the corridors are not being maintained properly. As a result, the state is losing its jumbos.
According to the Wildlife Society of Odisha (WSO), the 14 identified corridors sprawl across an area of 870 sq km. Some areas lie on the border of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
“Instead of taking steps to declare the identified passage as corridors, the state government identified nine more corridors in April 2012,” alleged WSO, a private body working for conservation of forests and wildlife.
“The Identification of corridors seems an eyewash. By now, the government should have secured the corridors by validating them under the Environment Protection Act, 1986,” said WSO secretary Biswajit Mohanty.
The WSO also alleged that the proposed corridors pass through potential mining reserve and the state government is dilly-dallying to get it approved to favour miners and industries.
The government is not only sitting on the proposal of the elephant corridors, it has not yet brought out notification for two elephant reserves.
The government had identified Mahanadi elephant reserve, which is spread over 8,036 sq km, Mayurbhanj reserve (7,043 sq km) and Sambalpur reserve (5,846 sq km) and notified them later. But it is yet to notify the south Odisha reserve (4,216 sq km) and Baitarani reserve (10,516 sq km), the WSO data reveals.
On an average, 46 elephants died in a year between 2000 and 2010, the sources said. But from 2010 to date, the average yearly casualty rate of the jumbos has touched 73.
The WSO claimed that 470 elephants have died in the past six years. Of the 470 elephants, 85 were killed by poachers for ivory, 47 were killed by poachers by laying electrocution trap and 26 were killed due to hanging electric cables. While 15 were killed by coming under the wheels of trains, two died in road accident, Mohanty said.
The remaining elephants died owing to accidental fall in trenches, diseases, old age and infighting. In 69 cases, the reason of death couldn’t be ascertained.
Principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) Siddhant Das said, “The corridors have been identified for management of elephant routes and the wildlife wing has been maintain it. For a notification to come, it needs a brain-storming with several stake holders, including local people. In the absence of a notification, elephant management is not hit,” he told TOI.