Elephants to travel 70-hour in train from Assam for Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad

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Published: June 20, 2019 7:09:08 PM

This issue has drawn the attention of wildlife activists across the state as the move was approved by Chief Conservator of Forest (Jorhat circle).

Four captive elephants are to be transported from Assam to AhmedabadFour captive elephants are to be transported from Assam to Ahmedabad

In a first of its kind, Congress’ Member of Parliament from Kaliabor (Assam) Mr. G Gogoi, wrote a letter to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar seeking his intervention in the matter of transportation of four elephants for Jagannath Yatra in Ahmedabad.

According to a report by The Indian Express, four captive elephants will be transported from Assam to Ahmedabad in tough 70 hour-long journey. The elephants are being transported to take part in a religious function in Ahmedabad. The annual rath yatra is considered to be one of the most celebrated festivals in Gujrat and in organized by the Jagannath Temple annually. The temple made a demand of four elephants so that they could avoid any mishaps this year.

Rath Yatra, which is also known as Chariot Festival, is a festival in which the chariot of Lord Jagannath and other deities are pulled in a traditional ceremony towards Gundicha temple and then back to the main temple as mentioned on the website of the Jagannath temple trust.

The transport of elephants from the eastern end of the country to the western is controversial because Elephant is a Schedule 1 protected animal and according to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change no elephant can be made to walk for more than three hours or 30 kilometers in one run. Also, it is restricted to transport an elephant for more than six hours in one go as per guidelines.

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In a confirmation by the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), it was made clear that they received an application on Tuesday requesting transportation of four pachyderms from Tinsukia in Upper Assam to Ahmedabad, along with an advance of Rs 1,500 as mentioned in a report by The Indian Express. The date of travel still remains ambiguous the report said. In addition to this, people are questioning the condition in which the elephants are to be transported as they are to be moved in a VP Coach (a closed no AC wagon roughly the size of a passenger coach, generally used to transport goods) linked to a passenger train. Though affirmations were given about presence of a Veterinary professional and water-food provision for animals still there are questions whether that will be enough to endure the scorching heat of the central part of India, the route through which the elephants are to be taken.

This issue has drawn the attention of wildlife activists across the state as the move was approved by Chief Conservator of Forest (Jorhat circle) Ranjan Kumar Das and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ranjana Gupta who issued and signed/approved the transit permit respectively.

The move could turn fatal as the animals might face skin degradation and infection during the long and packed journey. According to experts, elephants are free-spirited animals who live on their own will and move freely, controlling their movement could hamper their mental health and could lead to a mishap.

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