Seven elephants were found dead after they came in contact with an exposed live wire in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district on Friday. Three of the carcasses were found on the road with the rest being found inside a canal by the villagers who then informed the forest department the next day. Assistant Conservator of Forest, Jitendranath Das, stated that the seven elephants, part of a herd of 13 elephants, died after they came in contact with an 11-kV line. The incident took place in a village in the Sadar Forest Range when the herd was proceeding towards a canal road from a paddy field. This incident records the highest number of elephants killed in the state.
Forest Minister Bijayshree Routray noted that the incident was “most unfortunate” accusing the electricity department of negligence. “We lost seven elephants due to the sheer negligence of central electricity supply utility,” he stated to the Statesman, further adding “The electricity supply authority was repeatedly warned about the sagging lines, both by the forest department and the people of the area.”
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday ordered an inquiry by the Crime Branch and directed authorities to take appropriate action if any case of criminal negligence is found. The Odisha government suspended six officials and sacked a junior engineer of the Central Electricity Supply Utility, according to reports. The forest department has also suspended three of its staff, including the Dhenkanal Range Officer. In March, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest) Suresh Mahapatra had held a meeting where it the subject matter was whether the electrical transmission lines passing through areas with elephants in the state should be cabled or insulated.
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