Protests intensify against move to relocate rogue tusker Arikomban

Arikomban. File photo: Manorama

Muthalamada (Palakkad): Wide protests are brewing up against the move to relocate rogue tusker Arikomban from Chinnakanal to Parambikulam following the High Court order.

Alathur MP Ramya Haridas will inaugurate a march by residents of Parambikkulam to the office of the Deputy Director, Parambikkulam Tiger Reserve, at 10:30 am on Monday. A decision to stage the protest was made during an all-party meeting convened by P Kalpana Devi, president of Muthalamada panchayat.

The residents of the Kariyarkutty tribal settlement, which is located close to the Muthuvarachal forests in Orukomban range, too, are slated to take part in the protest. The expert committee constituted by the High Court had directed to release of the elephant in the Muthuvarachal area after tranquilizing it in Idukki.

A dharna planned by the all-party meet convened by MLA K Babu will be staged at Kambrathu Challa at 10 am on Monday. Elected representatives from Kollengode and Nenmara Block Panchayats under Nenmara assembly constituency, and various panchayats, leaders of various political parties, and farmers too are slated to attend the protest.

Meanwhile, MLA K Babu will move a review petition in the High Court against its direction to release Arikomban in Parambikulam. The options of moving another petition through the tribal chieftains by citing the threat that the animal poses to the tribal settlements of the region, are also being explored.

State Govt not to file review petition: Minister A K Saseendran

Meanwhile, Forest Minister A K Saseendran said the State Government has no plans to file a review petition against the High Court’s direction to release Arikomban in Parambikulam. The Forest Department is acting in line with the court’s directions and if the court issues any further directions based on a review petition to be moved by a people’s collective led by the Nenmara MLA, the department will act accordingly.

The Forest department, according to the minister, is proceeding ahead with the plans to dart the pachyderm as directed by the court. It has been directed to shift the animal to Parambikulam with the support of the police. The inspections in this direction are slated to be held in the coming days.

The authorities are planning to take the tranquilized elephant to Parambikulam through the Karamthodu forest route and crossing the river. Photo: Manorama

Tribals block attempts to relay Vazhachal-Parambikulam Koop road

Protests are also raging in the Athirappilly region against the court's direction to shift the animal to Parambikulam with the tribals here on Sunday blocking the works to open a forest route to facilitate the movement of Arikomban. An earth mover machine, which had been brought from Vazhachal for renovating the Koop road from Vazhachal to Parambikulam for transporting the elephant, had to be sent back following the protests staged by tribals.

The authorities are planning to take the tranquilized elephant to Parambikulam through the Karamthodu forest route and crossing the river. The 26-km Koop road has been lying in shambles for lack of maintenance in most parts. The tribals, however, allege that the authorities might release the elephant halfway through the Vazhachal forests, as it would be difficult for them to transport the animal through this route with steep climbs.

The Forest Rights Act stipulates prior permission from the tribal collective or Oorukoottam for building roads inside the forests or even cutting down tree branches. The steps for transporting Arikomban, however, were being initiated without any such consent, charged Geetha, chieftain of the Vazhachal tribal settlements.

Delay in bringing Radio Collar; uncertainty casts over Arikomban Mission

Meanwhile, a shadow of uncertainty has cast over the mission to tranquilize Arikomban, which has been on a rampage in the Chinnakanal region of Idukki, and shift it to Parambikulam reserve forests following a delay in receiving the satellite radio collar to be fixed on the animal. The authorities were planning to execute the mission on Tuesday after a mock drill on Monday. However, an inordinate delay has occurred following the non-receipt of permission from the Forest Department Chief of Assam to allot the gadget to the Kerala Forest Department.

As the mission could not be carried out without the radio collar, officials have informed that the animal shifting will be delayed. The delay in completing the formalities is attributed to an ongoing visit by President Draupadi Murmu in Assam.

Earlier, the authorities had brought to Munnar a GSM radio collar to be fitted on Arikomban. The gadget, however, could not be traced to locations outside the mobile range coverage. Several parts of Parambikulam forests are not covered by cell phone networks. It was against this backdrop that the Forest Department decided to bring a satellite radio collar from Assam.

Satellite radio collars, owned by the Wildlife Trust of India, are currently available only in Assam. The key personalities involved in the darting mission including Dr Arun Sakkariya, a veterinarian who leads the Special Task Force, will reach Chinnakanal once the gadget is brought here.

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