Arikkomban shift | Can’t move court every time locals protest: Kerala govt

Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran suggested that the people aggrieved by the decision to shift Arikkomban to their area opt for legal remedies

Arikkomban, Idukki, Parambikulam
The Committee of Experts appointed by Kerala HC has suggested that the “rice-eating” tusker Arikkomban be shifted from Chinnakanal to Parambikulam tiger reserve

Reacting to the protests in Parambikulam against an elephant’s relocation, the Kerala government said on Monday (April 10) that it cannot possibly move court seeking a change in location every time locals object to such a proposal.

The Kerala High Court last week ordered the relocation of a tusker called Arikkomban from Chinnakanal in Idukki district to Parambikulam tiger reserve in Palakkad. The location was suggested by a Committee of Experts (CoE) appointed by the court to decide whether the jumbo should be relocated or kept in captivity.

However, locals who live close to the tiger reserve have been protesting against the decision. The tusker has earned notoriety — and its moniker — because of its fondness for rice, which it steals from shops before damaging them.

Also read: Kerala: Protests erupt over shifting ‘rice-loving’ tusker to Parambikulam

Minister urges people to move court

Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran, speaking to reporters in Palakkad on Monday, said the government cannot move court for a review of its order every time people of an area object to the elephant’s relocation.

“No one would be happy about it. No one would welcome it. But the government cannot keep going to court saying this place is not good or that place is not good. There is no logic to it,” the minister said. He added that the government would discuss the issue with legal experts before taking a decision on what to do.

The minister further said it would be preferable that the people aggrieved by the decision opt for legal remedies. If they get relief from the courts, the government will be more than happy, he said.

The CoE submitted its report recommending the elephant’s relocation after visiting several areas in Idukki district affected by the activities of the tusker and after hearing the grievances of the locals.

Also read: Anayirankal | Unscientific resettlement led to man-animal conflict: Expert panel to HC

Man versus animal

The court’s directions came on a PIL filed by two animal rights groups — People for Animals (PFA), Trivandrum Chapter and the Walking Eye Foundation for Animal Advocacy. In their plea, the petitioners claimed that the order to tranquillise and capture the tusker was “illegal and unscientific”.

Based on their plea, the court in a late-night sitting on March 23 stayed the government’s decision to capture the tusker. On March 29, the court extended the stay till April 5 and constituted an expert committee to decide whether the elephant should be captured and kept in captivity to be trained as a kumki elephant or be relocated to some other forest.

Kumki elephants are captive pachyderms trained to help with trapping and capturing wild elephants.

The panel in its report favoured translocating the tusker to Parambikulam tiger reserve in Palakkad.

(With agency inputs)