After repeated instances of animal-deaths due to electrocution from illegal power fences, the practice has proven fatal for human beings too with the recent death of a 13-year-old boy at Sirumugai.
While fences powered with direct current energiser which leaves mild intermittent shock to scare animal, farm owners often resort to use alternative current which leads to electrocution.
According to Coimbatore based environmental forums, AC-powered illegal fences are active at night in several farms lying close to forest peripheries in Coimbatore.
In February, a joint meeting of officials from Forest Department, Tangedco, members from Osai – an NGO– and WWF India to tackle the menace. The meeting was held following electrocution of three elephants inside a private farm near Mettupalayam in January.
Based on the meeting, mapping of vulnerable areas were done and shared the information to Tangedco officials to conduct periodical checking. Even during such initiatives, a 10-year-old male elephant was electrocuted from illegal power fence at Sirumugai in May.
“The recent incident in Sirumugai was totally unexpected as the farm situated more than six km away from forest. Forest Department along with Tangedco often conducts checking in farms close to forest. We also suspect that farmers remove fences before officials come for inspection,” said S. Ramasubramanian, Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle.
Apart from the case registered by the police under Section 304 of IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), the Forest Department has booked the farm owner Veerapathiran (55) under Section 9 of Wildlife Protection Act (prohibition of hunting).
Mr. Ramasubramanian said that house to house visits are conducted by the Forest staff to abstain from using AC-powered fences.
According to Tangedco officials, regular checking is conducted in farms close to forests to curb the practice of AC-powered electric fences.
Tangedco officials said that power connection will be cancelled immediately if AC-powered electric fences are found during inspections.
K. Kalidasan of Osai said that the seriousness of the issue comes to light only when huge animals like elephant or human beings die of electrocution from illegal fences.
“Small animals like deer or boar too must be getting killed but we do not come to know of it. This is a highly dangerous practice which has proven fatal to human beings too,” said Mr. Kalidasan.
He felt that the government should take steps to provide subsidy to farmers for purchasing DC energiser for fences which is safer. He wanted the Tangedco to intensify inspections of farmlands to bring an end to the practice.