Elephant deaths in C’garh: 3 forest officials, guard suspended

Raipur: Three Chhattisgarh forest officials and a guard have been suspended in connection with the recent deaths of three wild elephants in the state, an official said on Sunday.

A show cause notice has also been issued to a divisional forest officer (DFO) in Balrampur district for alleged dereliction of duty, he said.

The suspension orders and the show cause notice were issued on Saturday evening, a senior forest official told PTI.

As per the orders, sub-divisional forest officer (Rajpur) K S Khutia, range forest officer (Rajpur) Anil Singh, deputy ranger (Gopalpur) Rajendra Prasad Tiwari, and forest guard Bhupendra Singh have been suspended, he said.

The carcass of a female elephant was found on June 11 in Gopalpur circle under Rajpur forest range of Balrampur district, while two elephants, one of them pregnant, were found dead in the adjoining Pratppur forest range of Surajpur district on June 9 and 10.

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According to officials, all the three jumbos belonged to the same herd that had moved towards Pratappur from Rajpur.

“As per reports, the elephant whose carcass was found on June 11 from Rajpur forest range probably died on June 6.

These forest staff allegedly failed to inform senior officials about it till June 11. They allegedly indulged in serious negligence in duty,” the official said.

Their act amounts to violation of Rule 3 of the Chhattisgarh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules. Therefore, they have been suspended with immediate effect, he said.

The forest department has also issued a show cause notice to Balrampur’s DFO Pranay Mishra, seeking his reply within a week, the official said.

“The DFO is expected to take steps to prevent human- elephant conflicts through various means. But in this case, he did not even have the information of the elephant’s death till the carcass got decomposed. This clearly indicates that he has committed gross negligence,” said the notice.

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Because of this, the incident was constantly reported in the media which has maligned the image of the state government, it further said.

The notice asked why disciplinary action should not be initiated against Mishra under provisions of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1969.

State Forest Minister Mohammad Akbar on Friday constituted a panel headed by a retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer to probe the deaths of the elephants.

The minister said the postmortem of the pachyderms revealed that one of them died of cardiac arrest, another of toxicity and third one died due to infection.

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