Cassian Baliarsingh

A chargesheet will be filed at an early date in connection with the suicide of a witness in the case of elephant poaching in Similipal Wildlife Sanctuary, Mayurbhanj the forest department informed the Orissa High Court on Thursday.

Manoj Nair, Chief Conservator Forests (CCF) and the Field Officer of the Similipal Tiger Reserve assured the court that a chargesheet will be filed in the death of Turam Purti at an early date and the case will be taken to its logical conclusion.

Also Read | Similipal Witness Death: Three Forest Staff Booked After Deceased's Wife Cries Murder

Nair also informed a bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice MS Raman that three forest officials have been arrested under the Wildlife (Protection) Act and forwarded to the Court of the SDJM, Udala and remanded to judicial custody.

During the hearing, an affidavit was filed by Nair explaining the scheme of 'Gaja Sathis' and stating that in the current year, the scheme has been scaled up and 5457 volunteers have been engaged in 1177 villages.

It was also stated that a “Jana Surakhya Gaja Rakshya” scheme has been rolled out to encourage public community partnership having provision for solar fencing with 90% cost being borne by the State.

During the hearing, Raman Sukumar on behalf of the forest department made a powerpoint presentation giving a detailed explanation of the present active elephant corridors in Odisha. He, in the presence of Joint Task Force (JTF) chief Nair, listed out that the forest department has identified 14 elephant corridors in the State.

Sukumar emphasised the need to provide additional bridges to link two important reserves viz., the Sambalpur Reserve and the Mahanadi Reserve where at least 70 to 75 per cent of the elephant population of approximately 2000 in Odisha today are active.

Also Read | Lone Witness In Similipal Tusker Poaching Case Dies At Cuttack SCB

Similarly, Nair stated that in the action plan that will be drawn up by the JTF, many of these elements will be addressed. The next hearing for the case has been scheduled for January 18, 2023.

Speaking about the case, Asish Mishra, who presented the case on behalf of the petitioners said, “The Court emphasised on steps needed to protect elephants and their natural habitats. It also called for the need to create new water bodies and renovate the old ones.”

“We also raised the issue of Turam Purti before the court. Yesterday, his wife alleged murder and filed an FIR with Jashipur police. He was tortured and forced to consume poison. So, the court has asked the police to file the chargesheet in the case which the forest department claims to be a suicidal case,” he added.