If not for court's intervention, Forest dept would've caught Arikomban: Minister

Protecting elephants by replacing people is an encroachment on people's rights, said Minister Saseendran. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Forest Minister A K Saseendran has said that the people in Idukki's Chinnakkanal are living in fear of the raids by rogue elephant Arikomban.

The minister also said that if the court had not intervened, the elephant would have been caught already. There is loss of life and property there, he added.

"If the court had not intervened, the elephant could have been caught by now. People are living in fear due to the attack of wild animals. There loss of life and property. Local residents are asking the person who filed the case to come and stay there for a week. If not the complainant, they want the judge to go there...It is not appropriate for me (as a minister) to say this. But this is the people's demand. But we can't say this in the court, can we," the minister said after the High Court rejected the Forest Department's plea to tranquilize and capture the loner elephant.

The court, in its order, directed the officials to fix a radio collar on the tusker instead of capturing it. "The decision over relocating the elephant will be taken following a report from the expert panel,” the court added.

The court also said that the reason for the problem was not the elephant, but letting people live inside the deep forest.

Meanwhile, Shantanpara panchayat president Liju Varghese said the court's observations cannot be accepted. "I do not understand why the court made such an observation. The problem is not caused by people entering the forest. An elephant has entered the residential areas. So the court's comment is wrong," he said.

"Protecting elephants by replacing people is an encroachment on people's rights. This cannot be accepted. In the 1960s, the government itself resettled people in the forest area. There were also elephants. But there were no violent elephants like today. 301 Colony is the place where the people were settled in 2003. Around 50 families live here. If you ask us we will say people are more important than elephants," he added.

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