THRISSUR: After the Supreme Court’s interim order asking elephant owners and festival organiser to strictly follow the guidelines of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and state governments concerned for parading elephants, it has become an uphill task for those who want to parade pachyderms at festivities and other events.
Speaking to ‘Express’, Suparna Ganguly, the honorary president and founding trustee of Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which filed the main petition in SC over the matter, said that the guidelines mentioned by the court were so stringent that it would be difficult to follow them considering the way in which elephants were presently being treated across the country. “This is an interim order and we are keeping our fingers crossed on how the police and officials concerned will act with regard to the SC order on Wednesday that violations of the guidelines will invite non-bailable charges. The Centre is of the opinion that an animal in the wild cannot be in anyway paraded in the busy towns or other places with large crowd around. We whole heartedly welcome the interim order and it is an order to safeguard the life of both the pachyderms and the mahouts,” she noted.
General secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force V K Venkitachalam said that till Wednesday, AWBI guidelines which mandates the certification of the board along with its permission for parading elephants was not given any consideration by the elephant owners and festival organisers. So, from now on, both the groups would a have a tough time implementing the guidelines of the board like parading the elephants without shackles, banning pachyderms with infection on tusks and with the signs of other diseases etc.
“Besides that, starting from 2008, the state government has issued several circulars and guidelines based on the Performing Animal Registration Rule 2001 about elephant parading and along with it there is a HC order in March 2008 about the guidelines to be followed. According to these guidelines, elephants could not be paraded between 11 am to 3 pm and the belly to belly distance while lining up elephants need to be minimum of 4 meters. Apart from giving water, melons and cucumber water needs to be provided to the pachyderms while they are paraded, otherwise it will be considered as torture. These are all part of the guidelines,” he said.
Thiruvambadi Devaswom president M Madhavan Kutty said that all guidelines of the state government were followed for parading elephants at Thrissur Pooram and the AWBI guidelines need to be looked into. “We are happy that the court has allowed us to implead in the case as organisers of a festival along with elephant owners. From now on we will be able to get the copy of the documents filed by the petitioners and effectively counter their false allegations,” he said.