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Cesu official released on bail

Dhenkanal, Nov. 30: A junior engineer of the Central Electricity Supply Utility (Cesu), who had been arrested following the death of a pregnant elephant by electrocution here, was released on bail last evening.

Pratap Sahu of Cesu’s Parjanga section had been arrested on Monday by the range officer in-charge of Mahabir Road after the elephant’s death on November 17.

The incident had taken place at Barabanki reserve forest near Kumusi village under Dhenkanal forest division. This had led to a sharp pubic resentment with local residents demanding action against electricity officials.

Sources in the forest department said a herd of 40 elephants had strayed into the village under Mahabir Road forest range on the night of November 17. As they were passing through the nearby Barbanki jungle, one of them was caught up in a high-tension live wire which proved fatal.

The following day, forest officials conducted a post mortem and confirmed that the elephant was pregnant.

Justifying the arrest, Dhenkanal divisional forest officer H.M. Maharatha said: “The electric wire was about 10 feet high with which the last elephant of the moving herd came in contact and died on the spot. It was sheer negligence on the part of Cesu officials, which led to a public outcry. We had to take action against the errant officials according to the law.”

Executive engineer of Cesu, Chainpal division S. Goud denied allegations of negligence.

“We had submitted a Rs 20 crore proposal to repair the old electric wires and poles in that section to prevent such mishaps but we got no response or funds for the purpose. The elephant might have hit against the pole resulting in sagging of wire. Cesu officials are in no way responsible for the death,” Goud said.

Over the past three years, there have been seven elephant deaths in this division. This year, the death toll has gone up to three because of electrocution.

Dhenkanal boasts the largest number of elephants among all districts in the state.