GUWAHATI, June 27 - After days of manoeuvring, the under-fire forest department has decided to �keep in abeyance� its decision to allow transportation of four elephants from Tinsukia to Gujarat for their participation in the annual Jagannath Yatra there.
The decision came a day after a team of experts and veterinarians, who were consulted by the forest department on the matter following a direction from the Gauhati High Court, opposed the transportation citing the heat conditions on the route.
In an office order issued today, Assam�s chief wildlife warden Ranjana Gupta said the permission granted to �the owners� to transport the animals has been kept in abeyance due to �the prevailing heat wave conditions� in northwestern parts of India.
A copy of the order was also marked to the managing trustee of Jagannathji Temple of Ahmedabad, Mahendra Jha.
Yesterday, in its last ditch effort, the forest department, which was reportedly under political duress to transport the animals, held marathon meetings with two groups of experts. The first group opposed the transportation citing various guidelines from the Central Zoo Authority and Project Elephant, and suggested that the expert committee should be broadened by including experts who have field knowledge.
A fresh expert team was constituted later during the day comprising Dr Pulin Chandra Das, director of animal husbandry, KK Sharma, professor of veterinary college, Dr Bijoy Gogoi, veterinary officer at city zoo, Pranjit Barua, veterinary officer, and Dr Debabrata Phukan, Golaghat veterinary officer.
This team too opposed the transportation citing the heat conditions which might lead to the elephants suffering heat strokes.
The consultation was done by the forest department after the Gauhati High Court directed the State�s wildlife warden to pass a fresh order to transport the elephants considering �all aspects�.