The Assam government is planning to register a police case against “unknown persons” after a wild elephant died at a construction pit in yoga guru Ramdev’s herbal and food park being built in the state.
A male, a female and her calf from a herd fell early on Wednesday into one of the large unfenced pits being dug to construct Patanjali’s unit at Ghoramari in Tezpur district.
The tusker managed to get out, but the female, which suffered internal injuries and broke a leg from the fall, and her two-month-old calf, remained stuck. Efforts to pull her out and treat her proved futile and she died on Wednesday night.
The calf, which remained near his mother for the entire day, was shifted to the elephant rehabilitation centre at Kaziranga national park.
“Something which shouldn’t have happened has happened. I have directed my department to register a police case to probe the reasons that led to the elephant’s death,” forest minister Pramila Rani Brahma, who visited the site on Thursday, said.
The first information report (FIR) will be registered against unknown persons but names will be entered once the preliminary inquiry establishes the culpability.
Reports say several pits have been dug up in the area to set up the plant, but no fence was erected to prevent animals or humans from falling into them.
“I have heard this area is frequented by wild elephants. If the land was allotted to Patanjali despite this knowledge, it is unfortunate. Protective measures should have been taken,” Brahma said.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation of Patanjali’s Rs 1,000-crore Ghoramari plant, which will be spread over 150 acres, earlier this month.
The Nameri national park and Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary are located close to the plant, nearly 200km northeast of the state capital.
The plant aims to become operational by next March. It will have the capacity to produce nearly 1 million metric tonnes of goods a year and provide direct employment to 5,000 people.
“The incident shouldn’t have happened. We have many local contractors working at the site. We will inquire into the incident and take appropriate action,” Patanjali spokesperson SK Tijarawala said.
The death highlighted forest officials’ inability to rescue and provide immediate treatment to wild elephants.
Last month, an injured elephant died in Nagaon district after it remained stuck in deep slush for over a week.
“We don’t have enough specialised doctors or personnel. Efforts are underway to recruit more people on contract to ensure such incidents don’t recur,” the forest minister said.
Assam has nearly 6,000 elephants in the wild and incidents of man-elephant conflicts because of shrinking forests are common.