GUWAHATI, Jan 22 � In an unusual incident, the Assam Forest Department has detained an elephant, which was being trans-located from Assam to a temple in Kerala in clear violation of the guidelines for translocation for such animals. The persons accompanying the elephant along with the truck used have also been detained.
Sources in the Forest Department told The Assam Tribune that the elephant was being taken from Chanddhora in Lakhimpur district to Sri Padmanava Swami Temple in Kerala in an open truck, when the truck was intercepted in Barpeta. The elephant is now kept in the Manas National Park.
Sources revealed that though the relevant papers for the translocation of the elephant were in order and the microchip of the animal is also in place, the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court for translocation of animals were not followed. Sources pointed out that the animal was transported in an open truck and all its legs and neck were tied up badly. �It is not proper to transport an animal for thousands of kilometres in an open truck in such a manner,� sources added.
The transportation should have been done at night as far as possible to avoid crowded roads, but in this case, the truck was travelling in broad day light. There was no provision for food and water on the truck. Two persons accompanying the animal, M Ali and Z Islam told the forest officials that they were given money for procuring food for the elephant on the way, but that statement was not acceptable. �There is no guarantee that they would get adequate food and water for the elephant throughout the long route and they should have kept adequate provisions on the truck,� the sources added.
The transit permit was issued in the name of one A Kutti Pillai of Kerala and when contacted, he revealed that the elephant was to be donated to the temple on behalf of a Union Minister. A senior officer of the Government of Kerala also called up officials of the State Government to request them to secure release of the elephant. But Pillai could not provide any paper to prove that the elephant was to be donated in the name of a Union Minister.
Meanwhile, sources in the Forest Department also said that they would allow translocation of the elephant only after proper arrangements are made in this regard in accordance with the guidelines.