Dhenkanal Elephant Deaths: NGT slaps Rs 1 crore fine on CESU

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Taking a suo-motu cognizance of media reports on the death of seven elephants from electrocution in Dhenkanal, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today registered a case against Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU) and slapped a fine of Rs 1 crore on the Odisha electricity board for negligence.

The tribunal also constituted a 3-member committee for investigation in the matter and submit a report of the same.

Reportedly, a division bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar imposed the fine on CESU after conducting a hearing on the issue.

NGT counsel Naginder Ben Pal said, “The NGT bench found the issue of death reports in newspaper. Based on the reports and bench hearing, NGT has imposed a fine of Rs 1 crore on CESU. A 3-member committee has been formed to carry out a detailed investigation and submit report with the NGT so that similar cases can be avoided in the future.”

Following the death of seven elephants near Kamalanga village under Sadar range in Dhenkanal district last Friday night (October 26), one official was dismissed whereas six others were suspended for dereliction of duty. While three officials each from the Forest department & CESU were suspended, the junior manager of CESU Meramundali section was dismissed after the incident, sources said.

It is pertinent to note that the Forest department had blamed the electricity department for sheer negligence that led to the tragic death of the jumbos.

In a press release, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) had alleged that the Dhenkanal DFO had written to the CESU last year to rectify the sagging 11 KV lines in the region but no action was taken in this regard.

On Monday, a four-member team of the State investigating agency visited Dhenkanal and began investigation after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik ordered a Crime Branch probe into the jumbo deaths.

As per reports, the team led by a DSP visited the office of the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) and Superintending Engineer of Electricity department and enquired about the matter.

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