Human-elephant conflicts: power poles should have spikes to keep away jumbos, says panel

Curious villagers having a look at the carcass of an electrocuted wild elephant at Gobbilla Kotur village in Chittoor district on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Electric poles in forests and wildlife sanctuaries need to have spikes to discourage elephants from uprooting them and getting electrocuted, a committee set up by the Union Environment Ministry has recommended. Its suggestions were presented to the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), an apex advisory board.

Elephant deaths from electrocution have emerged as a major challenge. The Hindu reported last November that 461 elephants were electrocuted from 2009 -2017, or about 50 a year.

An elephant calf was electrocuted in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday and its mother, according to a report from a forest official, uprooted cables and power transformers, ostensibly in an act of rage, on Monday. The power was turned off and this didn’t harm the adult pachyderm.

The committee’s report, which was deliberated upon by NBWL members on July 18, recommends that as far as possible transmission lines should be buried underground and those overhead ought to be insulated and kept out of reach of elephants.

“A nationwide strategy should be developed and supported to undertake the long-term planning of electricity grid networks as a priority. Planning should include the use of state-of-the-art wildlife protection equipment, and burying low to medium-voltage transmission lines below ground where feasible,” the report notes.

The Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd., (PGCIL), Central Electricity Authority (CEA), and State Electricity Boards (SEBs) have been asked by the committee to “immediately” fix sagging transmission lines and cables in protected areas.

There ought to be a joint inspection of every transmission/distribution line passing through the protected areas or passing through the vicinity of protected Areas (which are frequented by wild animals) by officials of the Electricity and Forest Departments at least thrice a year, once before the onset of monsoon and once after monsoon to identify potential problem stretches, the commitee says.

“To prevent death of animals in the forest areas due to electrocution by the distribution lines, the distribution companies shall preferably use ABC (aerial bunched cables) or underground cable. In case of overhead lines, the clearance above ground of the lower conductor of 11 KV/33 KV overhead lines should be as per the CEA Regulations,” it recommends.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2021 4:58:03 AM |

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