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Home / India News / Electric cable laid to protect paddy fields kills elephant in Odisha

Electric cable laid to protect paddy fields kills elephant in Odisha

Odisha’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) HS Upadhyay said elephants are still at risk from sagging power lines as electricity distribution companies are yet to tighten them at 6300 places in the elephant corridors.

india Updated: Oct 28, 2019, 23:52 IST
Debabrata Mohanty
Debabrata Mohanty
Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
Farmers had laid a power cable arounf their paddy fields in Odisha’s Sundargarh district to protect them from wild elephants.
Farmers had laid a power cable arounf their paddy fields in Odisha’s Sundargarh district to protect them from wild elephants.(Representative image/HT Photo)

A female elephant was electrocuted late Sunday night in Odisha’s Sundargarh district after it came in contact with a power cable laid by farmers who were apprehensive of the pachyderms rampaging through their paddy crop, a top forest official said.

Divisional Forest Officer of Bonei division, Sudhansu Khara said the carcass was found in Bagharatola forest of Sundargarh district Monday morning. “A herd of elephants was spotted moving around the locality last night. We suspect that one of the female elephants came in contact with a live wire set by farmers to protect their crops resulting in its death,” he said. The carcass was buried after veterinary officials conducted post-mortem on it.

Officials said villagers of Sundargarh were wary of frequent elephant depredations resulting in destruction of paddy as well as death of villagers.

Since April 2010, 727 elephants have died in Odisha, 114 of them due to electrocution.

For over last couple of weeks, the presence of a herd elephants in Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts has sparked panic among the locals. A herd of elephants from forests of Jharkhand strayed into villages and ransacked several houses in Champua area of Keonjhar apart from destroying acres of paddy and vegetable cultivation. Fearing elephant depredation, several villagers in Koenjhar and Sundargarh have started building lofts on trees to spend their night there.

Wildlife conservationist Biswajit Mohanty said the problem of depredation by elephants in human habitations was a result of irrigation canals, railway lines and mines cutting through their migration paths.

“In 1979 there were 2044 elephants in Odisha which has now plunged to 1976. In January 2010, the State government identified 14 elephant corridors covering an area over 870 sq km and included three inter-state corridors with West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. So far Rs.20 crores has been spent over five years to develop these corridors, but they are not yet notified under Environment (Protection) Act 1986 as Ecologically Sensitive Zones thereby exposing them to future diversion for mining, industries, canal, railway, dams or road development,” said Mohanty.

Odisha’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) HS Upadhyay said elephants are still at risk from sagging power lines as electricity distribution companies are yet to tighten them at 6300 places in the elephant corridors.

“The electricity distribution companies were supposed to complete cabling and rectification of sagging live wires at several places by December 2018. But only 30-40 per cent of the target has been achieved till date. The power distribution companies have now assured us to get it done by December 2020,” said Upadhay.

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