DEHRADUN: The Uttarakhand high court on Tuesday banned the practice of using red chillies and chilly bombs to ward off elephants off their tracks.
Dushyant Mainali, the counsel of the petitioner in the matter said, "The honourable court has banned the use of chilli and any cruel means against the elephants. The court has also issued emotive to the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change. The ministry has been directed to file the reply within two weeks of time".
The HC on October 10, 2019, issued notices to chief conservator of forests, director of Corbett Tiger Reserve and divisional forest officer of Ramnagar asking them to file replies over alleged encroachments in elephant corridors, blocking pathways of elephants using food items infested with red chillies and bursting crackers.
The public interest litigation was filed by a Noida based non-government organization 'Independent Medical Initiative Society'.
The petition alleged that the forest department, instead of controlling the human activities on the road passing through these elephant corridors is trying to control the elephants' movement using cruel means such as feeding chilli powder-filled flour balls to the wild elephants, putting chilli power-filled bags on the edge of the road and by firing shots and burning firecrackers to keep them away from the road passing through the elephant corridor.
The pachyderms travel from Ramnagar to Corbett to river Kosi and traditionally to reach river Kosi crossing the patch of the National Highway 121 along which three elephant corridors- Kota elephant corridor, Chilkiya – Kota elephant corridor, South Patlidun – Chilkiya elephant corridor have been conventionally in use by the wild elephants to reach river Kosi to quench their thirst as well as use water for other purposes such as bath.
"Their disappointment and frustration due to difficulties in crossing the corridor, are changing their behaviour in the entire area. The main reason of concern is the changing behaviour of baby elephants, elephant Calf, who are becoming aggressive day by day and have been found to be involved in most of the incidents of charging," said the petition.
The petition also stated that according to several reports there are several threats which this corridor has faced as sand boulder mining in nearby area and a large number of resorts which have increased traffic flow through the river corridor with tourists at times stopping by the road taking selfie and disturbing the animals.
The petitioner in the petition alleged that most of the corridors have been impaired but in the past one year there has been tremendous rise in the human-elephant conflict in the corridors passing on the edge of Corbett National Park and especially on the patch of the Mohan-Ramnagar Road which is part of NH-121.
The petitioner further alleged that over the years the corridors along with the patch of the road which passes through the boundary of the CTR have been obstructed by the construction of hundreds of resorts in the revenue village Dhikuli-Ladua, which falls in Malani – Kota Elephant Corridor.
Pointing out needs of the wild elephant, the petition stated that an elephant requires bout 225 liters of water per day and for this the herd of the wild elephants have to travel towards river Kosi and mostly in the night time when conventionally it was treated to be safe for them to cross the corridors but now they are facing the wrath of fast-moving vehicles even in the night time.