Electricity supply companies (Escoms) in the State, in association with the Forest Department, have initiated a process to identify sagging electric lines and raise them to 20 feet from the ground, to prevent the electrocution of elephants.
Work on raising the lines or replacing old ones is being taken up in the districts falling under the purview of Chamundeshwari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC), as well as Bangalore, Hubli and Mangalore Escoms.
The work started some four months ago and good progress has reportedly been made.
In the last five years, 79 cases of elephant electrocution have been reported in the State, Ajai Mishra, field director, Project Elephant, told The Hindu.
This includes cases where the animals died after coming into contact with fences that are illegally electrified by farmers who draw power from passing transmission lines.
The CESC project assumes significance as a majority of the deaths have taken place in the Mysore elephant reserve.
What the law says
As per guidelines for linear infrastructure intrusions in natural areas, pertaining to roads and power lines, the National Board for Wildlife, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has stipulated that, “to prevent electrocution deaths of Asian elephants, the height above the ground at the lowest point of the lowest conductor or grounding wires (at the maximum sag point) of power lines, whether insulated or bare, passing through all natural areas with known presence or movement of Asian elephants, shall be a minimum of 20 ft (6.6 m) above the ground on level terrain and a minimum of 30 ft (9.1 m) above the ground on steeper terrain.
The Central Electricity Authority guidelines stipulate that suitable spikes should be provided on 400 V, 11kV and 33kV poles at a height of 4 ft and 7 ft to ward off animals from damaging the poles by rubbing themselves against them, Mr. Mishra said.
Work in progress
A team from CESC surveyed 337.8 km of high tension and 332.3 km of low tension lines in the elephant corridor in Mysore, Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Hassan and Kodagu districts, B. Bhagya Naik, director (technical), CESC, told The Hindu.
Some of the lines are 40 years old.
Of the surveyed lines, 103 km high tension and 89.1 km low tension lines were rectified.
As many as 1,301 poles were set up to reduce the distance between two poles and avoid sagging of power lines, Mr. Naik explained.
CESC also constituted 14 mobile vigilance squads in September 2012, following a Karnataka High Court directive to conduct night inspections and patrolling in the elephant corridor to check unauthorised electrification of fences by farmers, Mr. Naik said.
Six cases have been booked against offenders, the CESC official added.