Manakula Vinayagar temple elephant shifted to KVK premises after health concerns raised by Maneka Gandhi

The Directorate had acted on a complaint from BJP Lok Sabha member Maneka Gandhi alleging repeated abuse and violations of the Animal cruelty act.
Elephant Lakshmi at the Manakula Vinayagar temple | Express
Elephant Lakshmi at the Manakula Vinayagar temple | Express

PUDUCHERRY: Lakshmi, the elephant of the famous Manakkula Vinayagar temple was on Monday shifted to the premises of Kirshi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Kurumambet from the premises of Eswaran Koil temple, on orders issued by the Directorate of Forests and Wildlife on June 4, following concerns over its health.

The Directorate had acted on a complaint from BJP Lok Sabha member Maneka Gandhi to Lt Governor Kiran Bedi alleging repeated abuse and violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. There have been other complaints too of improper maintenance of the elephant, stated the order.

Taking note of it, the Directorate sent a notice to the Executive Officer of the temple stating that it had failed to comply with the conditions of ownership under Section 42 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 under the existing setup and the animal should be translocated to the KVK campus immediately.

In the notice, the directorate had stated that the temple authorities had failed to furnish any report with respect to the current situation. “The temple has also failed to furnish required records such as disease and treatment register, feeding,  movement and work register and vaccination record . Even the urine, blood and dung test reports to evaluate the health conditions are pending. The temple management had failed to respond to the notice and had failed to comply with the conditions of ownership under section 42 of the Wildlife Protection Act,” the notice said.

A team of veterinary experts on elephants from Tamilnadu have advised shifting the elephant so that it can walk on mud floors daily for 10 kilometres, DCF Satiyamurthy told Express. Stating that this was the main reason for shifting the elephant, he said that the department had identified a 10 kms walking track on 100-acre land in KVK premises where the elephant can walk and there are enough water facilities. Temple mahouts and forest dept staff will take care of the elephant in the KVK premises, he said adding that the veterinary college has been requested to assist them. The elephant will remain there till its health improves, he said.

Following the Forest and Wildlife directorate's order, when efforts were taken to shift the elephant to the KVK a few days back, BJP and Hindu Munnani activists organized agitation at the Vedapureeswarar temple and the attempt was dropped. However, this morning officials took steps to shift the animals and the Hindu Munnani activist organized agitation. Grand Bazaar police arrested and removed them, following which the elephant was taken to the KVK by walk.

Lakshmi participated in the rejuvenation camp at Thekkampatti in Tamilnadu last December and was accommodated at the premises of the Vedapureeswarar temple. She has been with the temple for more than 20 years after she was donated by former Chief Minister R V Janakiraman to the temple. Since then she is associated with the rituals of the temple. On auspicious days like Vinayaga Charthurthi, Tamil new year and Bramorshavam,  she is brought to the temple in the morning and on other days Lakshmi visits the temple in the evenings.  Devotees visiting the temple offer prayers and receive blessings from the elephant which touches the head of the devotees with its trunk. They feel as if Lord Ganesha has blessed them as per the Hindu religious sentiments.

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