The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has reiterated that the Central Electric Supply Utility (CESU) of Odisha pay Rs 4-crore as penalty in connection with the death of 7 elephants near Kamalanga village in Dhenkanal in October.
Suo moto proceeedings were initiated in this matter on the basis of a news item dated Oct 28, 2018 that said that seven elephants were electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire hanging dangerously low near Kamalanga village in Odisha’s Dhenkanal forest division. Out of seven elephants, five were female elephants. According to the Forest Department, electrocution occurred on account of negligence of CESU. Immediately after the incident. The NGT had imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on CESU and in December last slapped an additional Rs 4 crore. The NGT has ordered CESU to deposit the amount with the Forest and Environment Department and the amount was to be utlilised by the Odisha government to prepare an action plan to protect the jumbos.
Today, CESU before a bench headed by NGT Chairman Adarsh Kumar Goel that relevant remedial measures have been taken by the department. It said that the onus was on the forest department which should have informed about the movement of the elephants. But the bench countered saying that it is the duty of the CESU to ensure that the electricity line is properly laid. “The power line killed the animal, power line is supposed to be maintained by you. It is your responsibility,” the bench said. CESU submitted that because it was the paddy season the elephants come out of the corridor so it was the responsibility of the forest department to inform it. The Bench said that as per the electricity rules if the wire snags immediately the power is supposed to be cut off.
Nearly 200 elephants have been killed in Odisha alone due to electrocution since the turn of the century.
—India Legal Bureau