Karnataka

Elephants in danger not just in Kodagu...

The spectre of elephant deaths by electrocution is not confined to Kodagu district alone, where six pachyderms met with a grisly end on coming into contact with live electric wires this month.

For, high-tension power cables criss-cross across wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, and without mitigatory measures in place, such incidents will continue to recur.

Sanjay Gubbi, a conservation biologist, pointed out that while focus is on Kodagu and rightly so, there are other areas in the State where elephants are known to thrive but face potential threat to their lives because of sagging wires.

“Several such power lines continue to sag in our elephant habitats, including within protected areas such as Kaali Tiger Reserve, Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and others,” Mr. Gubbi said.

He said all electricity supply companies have to follow the order of the High Court (WP 14029/2008) and ensure sagging electric transmission lines in elephant habitats are managed as per the guidelines developed by the National Board for Wildlife.

He said a minimum of 6.6 metres above the ground on level terrain (slope less than 20 degrees) and 9.1 meters above ground on steeper terrain (slope more than 20 degrees) has to be maintained. Since this is not implemented, it is a clear contempt of the HC order directing the State and all Escoms to ensure that electricity supply lines are not a threat to elephants.

It was pointed out that depending upon the terrain, underground cables could be used as they are the safest option. In areas where underground cabling is not possible, the authorities could explore using high-quality Aerial Bunch Conductor (ABC) wire as it provides safety even if it snaps. It is also highly reliable even in areas with higher vegetation cover.

“There is no effect of rain on ABC, hence making it suitable for high-rainfall areas such as Kodgau. It is already used in cities in congested areas where underground cabling is not possible. The power load in Kodagu area is very low and ABC will work very well,” Mr. Gubbi said.

M.D. Madhusudhan of the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), who was part of the Karnataka Elephant Task Force constituted as per an High Court directive to look into the gamut of human-elephant conflict, said the Kodagu tragedy was entirely avoidable. “The distribution of elephants across the State has been mapped, the areas where the power lines pass through are known. The places where these two overlap have been documented. All it requires is for the Forest Department and the CESC to apply themselves to reduce the threat in areas where elephants and power lines overlap,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 2:40:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/elephants-in-danger-not-just-in-kodagu/article19166691.ece

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