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Odisha provides ₹445 cr. to distribution companies to prevent elephant deaths

Fund helps them to increase clearance of electrical networks and replace bare conductors

The Odisha government has provided ₹445.75 crore to distribution companies to increase the ground clearance of electrical networks and replace bare conductors in elephant corridors and movement areas.

The overhaul is aimed at preventing elephant deaths due to electrocution. According to the Energy department, 79,000 interposing poles have been erected and more than 2,300 circuit bare conductors replaced by covered ones.

Also Read: Human-elephant conflicts: power poles should have spikes to keep away jumbos, says panel

In a recent meeting with Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, the companies and the Forest Department have been asked to interact regularly to achieve zero casualty of elephants.

Mr. Mohapatra also directed officials to involve the local community in elephant protection and come up with a scheme of rewarding the villagers, who would give information about illegal hooking for poaching wild animals.

He laid emphasis on remaining extremely vigilant during the harvest season and undertaking regular joint patrolling to prevent illegal hooking in elephant corridors and movement areas.

According to the Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environment pressure group that has been working on elephant conservation, 862 elephants have lost their lives between April 2010 August 2021. As many as 135 (16%) elephants died due to electrocution.

Also Read: Electric snare claims another elephant in Odisha

“Inadequate patrolling and breakdown of supervision and monitoring by senior officers has made it easy for the poachers to wipe out Odisha’s magnificent elephants,” said Biswajit Mohanty, chief of the WSO.

Multiple electrocution cases

Mr. Mohanty said lack of action against electricity distribution companies had led to multiple electrocution cases by overhead sagging naked wires, electrified fences and wild boar poaching wires.

“The elephants would have been saved if the distribution companies had installed safety devices. Most outrageous cases of deaths have gone unpunished including the killing of seven elephants in Dhenkanal district in 2018 at Kamalanga by a low height 11 KV wire,” he said.

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