NGT flags concerns over elephant safety in Odisha

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Bhubaneswar: Flagging concerns over the safety of elephants in Odisha, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the State government to initiate urgent measures to prevent illegal activities in the elephant corridors that are posing major threat to the wild animal.

The green court also expressed anguish over non-submission of reports related to elephant corridors.

According to sources, the elephant movement areas are getting squeezed due to illegal activities like construction and mining in the corridors. As many as 14 elephant corridors in the State facing such problems have been identified.

The Odisha Forest department had apprised the NGT through affidavits in October 2016 and February 2017 that steps are being taken for the safety of pachyderms. However, a complete report on the measures taken for the jumbos’ safety is yet to be furnished, informed sources.

Sankar Prasad Pani, wildlife expert had filed a petition before NGT through affidavits that norms stipulated for the elephant corridors are being flouted and interim order of the court pertaining to the safety of elephants breached. Acting on the petition, the NGT has asked the State to furnish the report at the earliest.

However, the Forest department claimed that steps have been taken to safeguard all the corridors from Keonjhar to Ganjam and Nuapada to Nayagarh districts. “Data on new elephant movement areas in the State are being collected. Moreover, Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) has been entrusted with the task of inspecting the elephant corridors. After it gives its report, we will file a complete report before the NGT,” PCCF (wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy said.

Odisha has witnessed 421 human casualties in man-elephant conflict from 2011-12 till now. Similarly, as many as 425 jumbos were killed during this period due to various reasons.

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