Residents of Chinnakkanal and Santhanpara panchayats have welcomed the Supreme Court directive on Mission Arikompan. The court has refused to interfere in the Kerala High Court order to capture, radio collar and relocate the wild tusker.
Chinnakkanal panchayat president Sini Baby said that the only demand was that the government take immediate steps to capture the tusker and relocate it to deep forest.
“The panchayats will not demand to shift the tusker to forest areas. Our only demand is to shift it from Chinnakkanal and Santhanpara panchayats,” said Santhanpara panchayat president Liju Varghese.
P.N. Jaimon, a farmer in Sinkukandam, said that the people in Chinnakkanal and Santhanpara would not support translocating the tusker to the Parambikulam forest. “The tusker has the habit of attacking houses at night and it may continue the habit in any place. Our demand is to capture the tusker and shift it to a kraal. If the court does not allow it, the government should find an isolated forest and translocate it,” said Mr. Jaimon.
Meanwhile, the Forest department officials said that uncertainty continued over the mission to capture the tusker. A senior Forest department official said finding a place to translocate the tusker was the only possible solution to the issue. “The government has not yet asked the Forest department to find a suitable place. If the government directs it to find another place, the department will suggest the deep forest areas of the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR),” said the official.
The Forest department had initially considered shifting the tusker to the deep forest areas of the PTR in Thekkady. “The tusker has the habit of swimming to 301 Colony across the Anayirankal dam. If released in deep forests of the PTR, it may swim across Periyar Lake and reach human habitations. Considering these aspects, Thekkady was excluded from the list,” said the official.
“For the past two months, the Forest department officials have been engaged in the mission to capture Arikompan. Delaying the mission hinders other works of the Forest department,” said the official.