Jharkhand is fast becoming a grave yard of wild elephants. Several elephants have lost their life in recent past in their home land- Singhbhum.
The latest incident showcased the highest elephant casualty on a single day on Monday night when five elephants, including two baby elephants, were electrocuted to death in Mosaboni forest range under Jamshedpur forest division allegedly after coming in contact with high voltage wires.
Forest officials say that the carcasses of the elephants were noticed by the villagers in the forest around noon on Tuesday, however, by the look of the bodies, it appears that they might have been dead a day before on Monday night.
Earlier this month, two female adult elephants had also been electrocuted to death in Chakulia, around 40km from Mosaboni, in the same Ghatshila sub-division.
These incidents have again prompted the state forest department to blame the state energy department for “violating standards” while laying electrical wires in forest areas leading to repeated incidents of elephant deaths. “We had written to the state energy department to adhere to the minimum heights mandated for electrical cables in forest areas earlier this month after the death of two elephants.
But apparently, it seems it has not been followed leading to such an unfortunate incident of loss of wild elephants again in the same month and in the same forest division,” said Sanjay Srivastava, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) and head of forest force (HoFF), Jharkhand. The senior forest official claimed that the minimum height to be maintained for electrical cables in forest areas is eight metres.
“However, we have come to know that the high-tension wires (32 KV) were barely 10 feet in height,” said Srivastava. Mosaboni forest officials said, the latest incident took place in the Benasol Uparbandha forest area of the Mosaboni range where 33 KV high-tension electric wires are there for supplying electricity to the mines of Hindustan Copper Limited (a PSU functioning under the Union mines ministry) in Mosaboni.
“Villagers had intimated to us that a herd of about 12 elephants were roaming in the forest on Monday evening. Elephants do meander to villages to feed on paddy in agriculture fields and might have got in touch with the low-height electrical wires leading to their death,” said a Mosaboni forest range staff. Jamshedpur divisional forest officer Mamta Priyadarshi said that they would first conduct an autopsy followed by cremation of the carcasses.
“Our first priority is to drive away the remaining elephants of the herd to safer areas away from the electrical wire and our team is doing it with the support of villagers. We will also take the body for autopsy and cremate them properly. We will then form a joint team of forest and JBVNL (Jharkhand Bidyut Vitran Nigam Limited, the state government agency which looks after the supply of electricity) to conduct a survey of all such areas having low-height wires and take corrective steps so that no such incidents recur,” said Priyadarshi.