Dhenkanal Elephant Deaths: Crime Branch arrests 3 including 2 forest officials

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Crime Branch on Saturday arrested three persons including two officials of Meramundali forest range in connection with the tragic death of seven elephants due to electrocution under Dhenkanal Sadar forest range on October 27.

The arrested include CESU junior engineer Sanjay Mohanty, Meramundali section forester Prabhakar Rana and forest guard Girish Dehury, informed Crime Branch ADG Santosh Upadhyaya adding that further investigation into the incident is on.

It is pertinent to mention that severe lapses on part of forest and electricity department had come to fore following the death of seven elephants in Dhenkanal. Following public outcry, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had ordered a Crime Branch probe into the incident.

A four-member team led by DSP had visited the spot on October 29 to conduct inquiry.

Earlier, the Forest & Environment and the Energy department had dismissed one official and suspended six others for dereliction of duties. While three officials each from the Forest department & CESU were suspended, the junior manager of CESU Meramundali section was dismissed following the incident.

Three officials of the Forest & Environment Department including Dhenkanal Range officer Prasanna Kumar Biswal, Forester of Meramundali section Prabhakar Rana and forest guard of Meramundali section Girish Chandra Dehury were suspended.

Similarly, the electricity department had sacked one officer and suspended three others in connection with the incident.

Sanjay Kumar Mohanty, DEE (Contract)/JM (Ele), Electrical Section, Meramundali has been terminated from his post and was replaced by Pradeep Kumar Pradhan, JM (Ele), Electrical section, Talcher.

Besides, Naresh Chandra Pattnaik, GM/(Ele)/Circle Manager, EC, Dhenkanal, Artatrana Nayak, SDO of Chainpal and Phiroj Panda, Lineman-B of Electrical Section, Meramundali were suspended by the electricity department.