Tamil Nadu

PETA moves HC to free Manakula Vinayagar temple elephant

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has moved the Madras High Court with a plea to quash an administrative order issued by Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on July 16 to bring back 30-year-old elephant Lakshmi from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra campus at Kurumbapet to the Manakula Vinayagar temple.

The animal welfare organisation also sought for a consequential direction to rehabilitate the pachyderm by sending her to a sanctuary or a rehabilitation centre, where she could live unchained and receive much needed veterinary care besides being able to socialise with other elephants without the fear of being goaded.

In its affidavit, PETA stated that the Manakula Vinayagar Devasthanam had purchased Lakshmi from a person named K.P. Chako for a consideration of ₹4.6 lakh on October 22, in 1997.

In 2011, it applied and obtained permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden to keep the animal in captivity on the temple premises.

However, in May 2014, the petitioner organisation lodged complaints regarding improper upkeep of the elephant. Immediately, the Deputy Conservator of Forests in Puducherry issued a notice to the Devasthanam listing out five deficiencies such as the housing facility and flooring substratum not being maintained as per norms.

The official also wanted the electrical provisions in the elephant shelter to be removed and regular veterinary care to be provided to the animal. The Devasthanam replied in July 2014 stating that existing stone flooring had been removed and good earth flooring was being laid. It also said that construction of a new housing facility had also begun.

The affidavit added that in November 2014, an inspection carried out at the instance of the Animal Welfare Board of India found the animal suffering from foot rot and suggested her to be moved to a sanctuary. The AWBI also wrote to the Chief Wildlife Warden in May 2015 to rehabilitate Lakshmi. PETA followed it up with a representation to the Lieutenant Governor in October 2016.

The petitioner organisation inspected the elephant in September 2018. Finally, on June 4, 2020, the Chief Wildlife Warden ordered shifting of the temple elephant to a more natural environment and she was accordingly translocated to Krishi Vignyan Kendra. Thereafter, PETA had requested the L-G to shift the elephant to a sanctuary.

However, to its shock, it came to know that the elephant was brought back to the temple once again on July 17 on the basis of an office note signed by the Chief Minister on July 16.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 3:56:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/peta-moves-hc-to-free-manakula-vinayagar-temple-elephant/article32280868.ece

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