DFOs of Odisha and AP spar over jumbo deaths (Berhampur)
The New Indian Express
May 17, 2023
The electrocution death of four elephants in Parvathipuram district of the
neighbouring state has left forest officials of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
at loggerheads. While an investigation into the jumbo deaths is still
underway, the divisional forest officer (DFO) of Parvathipuram and her
Rayagada counterpart are at a stand-off over the place of origin of the
jumbos which met a tragic end on May 12.
Last Friday, a herd of six elephants was passing through Parvathipuram
forest division when it came in contact with conductors of an unprotected
power transformer near Katragada. While four jumbos were electrocuted to
death, the remaining two sustained injuries and went to the nearby forest.
Incidently, the place where the mishap took place is closer to Rayagada and
Gajapati forest divisions in Odisha.
Following the incident, Parvathipuram DFO GAP Prasuna visited the spot and
reportedly said the herd came from Odisha and met with the accident which
indicated that no one was responsible for the incident. However, Rayagada
DFO BK Parida disputed her claim.
Parida said elephants are migratory in nature and seldom stay in one place
for long. The jumbos are always on the move in search of food. “It is the
duty of forest officials to protect the elephants on move. But in Katragada
incident, what were the protection measures put in place by the forest
department of Andhra Pradesh?” he questioned.
The DFO further said around four months back, the elephant herd in question
was in Odisha territory. “Though the pachyderms damaged crops and
plantations, forest officials of Odisha protected them by keeping a strict
vigil. Once the herd entered Andhra Pradesh, it was the duty of the forest
department of the neighbouring state to protect the elephants,” he said.
Parida claimed that the AP forest officials were aware of the presence of
the elephant herd in their jurisdiction but did not initiate any protection
measures. “The same herd had earlier entered Odisha from Andhra Pradesh and
was returning when the mishap took place. Hence, claiming the elephant herd
to be from Odisha is not justified, even more so when the investigation
into the deaths is still underway,” he added.