RAIPUR: SAVING elephants from electrocution has become tough in Chhattisgarh as government departments are shrugging off their responsibilities of bearing huge expenses involved in the exercise.
In last 16 years, 44 tuskers were lost to electrocution in the state. It was wildlife activist Nitin Singhvi, who in January 2018, filed a PIL drawing the court’s attention to elephant deaths by electrocution, mostly due to low-slung high tension cables owned by the Chhattisgarh State Power Distribution Company Limited (CSPDCL).
The court had directed the CSPDCL to resolve the issue following which the CSPDCL did a survey and wrote to the forest department that 810 km of 33 kV line and 3781 km of 11 kV high-voltage cables were to be elevated and masked by aerial bunched cables. Also, 3,976 km of low-tension line were to be rectified. The bill came to about `1,674 crore.
The forest department wrote to the Centre for the funds. Soon, the MoEF said it was the responsibility of the power discom. “Our mandate is only wildlife protection. The power company will have to bear entire estimated expenses,” Atul Shukla, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) said.
The power company, however, said it has submitted the proposal and details to the state government. “Nowhere the court has pointed out that it’s our fault. The only directive is to shift and rectify the low hanging high-voltage cables. We have no issues and will go ahead once the permission granted,” said Shailendra Shukla, chairman, CSPDCL.