By Anand Mishra
A group of animal lovers met minister of state for forests Dr Patangrao Kadam on Thursday and submitted a citizen’s report highlighting the cruelty on elephants by their owners in Mumbai and the state. The report contained copies of letters written by NGOs, MPs, MLA, MLC, municipal councilors and animal lovers across the state demanding a total ban on owning elephants in the state of Maharashtra.
Sunish Subramanian Kunju of an NGO, Plant & Animals Welfare Society, Mumbai, and social activist Abhijeet Rane met Mr Kadam and demanded immediate implementation of existing animal welfare laws as per Constitution of India. Acting upon the presentation made by the duo, Mr Kadam directed additional principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) west region, Suresh Thorat to take necessary action on the issue.
A report submitted by them reads, “Recent death of Bijli the elephant in Mulund was due to use of elephants on streets, crowded areas, joyrides, use in marriage ceremonies and other commercial purposes by their owner without any proper diet and health care. Prior to Bijli, in 2006, an elephant Roopkali also died after being hit by a speeding water tanker on the streets of Chembur.”
The Indian elephant is listed at S. No. 12-B in Schedule–1 of The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2002. As Maharashtra does not provide for a natural habitat for elephants, they are brought from other states by roadways on foot. Such elephants are taken away from their natural habitats and forcibly separated from their parents at a young age, and brought to towns illegally for commercial purposes.
Mr Kunju said, “All elephants owners have failed to provide them with sufficient food, water or shelter, as most of the elephants can be seen resting under bridges, sides of roads or other public places, and even failing to provide them with healthcare, which is why the practice must be put to an end immediately.”