5 years on, jumbos still as vulnerable

Five years after the state government came up with a plan to stop death of elephants by electrocution through a special scheme called System Strengthening for Elephant Corridor (SSEC), power distribution companies across the state are still to reinforce infrastructure under the scheme.

By Ashutosh Mishra in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 20.03.17
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Bhubaneswar, March 19: Five years after the state government came up with a plan to stop death of elephants by electrocution through a special scheme called System Strengthening for Elephant Corridor (SSEC), power distribution companies across the state are still to reinforce infrastructure under the scheme.

The recent spate of elephant deaths has put renewed focus on the SSEC, which was devised by a standing committee of the Assembly in the 2012-13 financial year.

The scheme, aimed at strengthening power infrastructure in elephant corridors, was launched with a token budget provision of Rs 1 lakh.

Since then, it has received higher allocations commensurate with the magnitude of the problem.

Energy minister Pranab Prakash Das said the government's emphasis was on strengthening power infrastructure.

"This is an important area for us. We are seriously looking at it," he said.

The standing committee on energy department has again underscored its importance and suggested that the proposal of Rs 20 crore for its implementation during the current financial year be enhanced to Rs 40 crore.

In 2013-14, a provision of Rs 21 crore was made for the scheme in the budget, with the amount going up to Rs 35.85 crore the following year.

The death of elephants after coming into contact with live wires has assumed serious proportions in the state with growing number of casualties.

On March 8, a female elephant was electrocuted at Bhadramunda village within Khamar forest range in Angul district. The animal's death was almost instant after it rubbed against a low-hanging 11KV line passing overhead in an agricultural field.

In a similar incident in January, another female elephant was killed at Garada village within Bisra forest area in Sundargarh. Part of a herd that had strayed into the village in search of food, the elephant grazed against the high tension wire while eating leaves from a mango tree. Elephant researcher Nimai Charan Palei said deaths by electrocution occurred mostly because of weak power infrastructure, especially in fringe areas of forests where live wires are often found sagging.

"The energy department should see that there are no low-hanging wires," he said.