BHUBANESWAR: Seven elephants including five females and a calf were electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire on the outskirts of Kamalanga village under Sadar Forest Range in Dhenkanal district late Friday night. The incident came to light when villagers found the carcass of seven elephants in paddy fields and informed the forest officials.
According to the villagers, a herd of 13 elephants had entered human habitation on Friday night. While passing through the village, seven of them came in contact with a live wire at a height of about eight feet above the ground and died on the spot. Sources said construction of a railway over-bridge in the area was assigned to a private company which violated Forest department guidelines and pulled the electric wire.
After the incident, Angul RCCF- cum-Additional PCCF Sudarshan Panda and DFO Sudarshan Patra visited the spot and interacted with the field staff and villagers. Panda said action will be taken against the erring officials. However, he admitted that both forest and CESU officials are responsible for the incident. Meanwhile, Minister for Forest and Environment Bijoyshree Routray has blamed the Energy Department for the incident.
He said though such incidents have been brought to the notice of the Energy Department by Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs), no remedial measure has been taken. In a press release, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Sandip Tripathy maintained that the accident occurred due to non-rectification of the sagging lines and non-cabling of transmission lines.
Tripathy said in the coordination meeting between Forest and Energy departments on March 29, 2018, it was decided that the electric transmission line going through the elephant movement area should be invariably insulated in new cases and for older transmission lines, the replacement should be done in a phased manner. He said the DFO, Dhenkanal had submitted a report six months back saying that a stretch of 136.57 km of LT lines passing through vulnerable area needs cabling.
The issue was also raised at the coordination meeting held on September 24, he said and added that no corrective action has been taken so far. Meanwhile, Secretary in the Energy Department Hemant Sharma said a three-member team is probing into the incident. Action will be taken as per law after the inquiry, he said.