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Updated: August 28, 2013 09:53 IST

State defends using elephant to carry golden howdah

Special Correspondent
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High Court of Karnataka says it will not interfere with the practice if there
is no violation of law. File Photo: M.A. Sriram
High Court of Karnataka says it will not interfere with the practice if there is no violation of law. File Photo: M.A. Sriram

The State government on Tuesday defended before the Karnataka High Court its decision to reject the elephant task force’s recommendation to either reduce the weight of the golden howdah used during the Dasara procession or carry the howdah in a chariot drawn by an elephant.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna made it clear orally that the court would not interfere with the government’s decision as long as there is no violation of any laws, including the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, in the use of the elephant to carry the howdah.

The Bench was hearing recommendations made by the task force on addressing the issue of man-elephant conflict.

While defending the government’s decision to reject the High Court-appointed task force’s recommendation about use of an elephant to carry the howdah, government counsel Raveendra G. Kolle told the Bench that the State cannot ignore the sentiments of the people by discontinuing the practice of having an elephant carry the howdah, while pointing out that in the earlier years, the Maharaja used sit inside the howdah and now the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is taken out in the procession.

Mr. Kolle said that the use of elephants in the howdah procession does not amount to cruelty. “We worship elephants during the Dasara festival,” he added.

G.S. Prabhu, State’s Chief Wildlife Warden, told the Bench that the department takes care of the elephants used for Dasara.

On the recommendation made, Raman Sukumar, task force chairman and Professor of Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, told the Benchthat they had received representations from animal welfare groups against the use of elephants during Dasara.

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Has the government taking a vote on the sentiments of people? And what about the elephants, how can we assume that they are carrying the weight without much trouble? And the Karnataka forest department's enthusiasm and commitment to continue with this practice needs to be condemned. Time and again, the department's focus has been found wanting. Take the recent cases of Maruthi mini hydel project, rampant poaching cases and illegal mining. Karnataka owes a lot of responsibility to the world at large with 60 of Western ghats entrusted in it's hands. The department has act with urgency and sincerity to ensure they are protected. But their focus seems to be on keeping politicians, businessmen and all sorts theives happy.

from:  Keviv
Posted on: Aug 28, 2013 at 04:49 IST
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