Cannot turn blind eye to people’s concerns: Kerala govt on rice-eating tusker’s translocation


PTI, Apr 19, 2023, 2:58 PM IST

The Kerala government on Wednesday said it could not turn a blind eye to the concerns of the people and their protests in connection with the rice-eating tusker ‘Arikomban’.

State Forest Minister A K Saseendran said that while courts could act only in accordance with the law, the government had to consider the public’s concerns and views.

That was one of the reasons that the Forest Department, for the first time in its history, created forest-friendly forums which held meetings at 14 centres in the state and came up with good recommendations with regard to human-animal conflicts, he said. While he denied knowledge about any alternative site for translocating Arikomban, the minister said that wherever the tusker would be moved, there would be a possibility of protests there and ”the government cannot forcibly impose its decisions on the people”.

”So we will inform the court and move forward according to its direction,” he said. The state government planned to capture Arikomban and keep it captive, as residents of Chinnakanal and neighboring panchayats close to the scenic Munnar hill station in Idukki district of the state, wanted the tusker removed from the area as it had been causing damage to property while foraging for food.

However, the government move was halted by the Kerala High Court, on a PIL moved by a couple of NGOs. The court then constituted a five-member Committee of Experts (CoE) to decide whether the tusker should be kept in captivity or translocated, and this resulted in protests by the affected people.

The CoE, subsequently, opted for translocation and suggested Parambikulam Tiger Reserve as the ideal location and the court agreed with it. However, this led to people close to the tiger reserve protesting against translocating the tusker there too.

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