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Four tigers electrocuted in Bandhavgarh reserve in 11 years

BHOPAL: Four tigers have been electrocuted in the last four months in the vicinity of the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. Documents sourced through the Right to Information Act revealed that over the last 11 years meeting after meeting took place among officers of the power and forest departments of the state, yet no decision or a concrete step was taken on this issue.

A note from the chief wildlife warden to the principal secretary, forests -obtained by Ajay Dubey of Prayatna -- states that the process of electrocution of tigers by poachers began in 1998. Between 1998 and 2005, 22 cases of poaching by electrocution were reported, and the dead included four tigers and three panthers.

The meetings began in March 2002, when the chief electrical inspector of the Union government asked all heads of electricity boards in the country to take steps to prevent poaching of animals by electrocution and create a cell for protection of wildlife against electrocution.

He also asked officials to invoke the Electricity Act besides the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in such cases. Again, in March 2002 the joint secretary, power, of the government of India held a meeting asking chairpersons of electricity boards to ensure underground cabling of lines in forest areas, maximum height in overhead lines in case underground cabling is not possible and prepare proposals for funding of the cabling by the Centre.

In 2005, the MP government, in a meeting with CMDs of distribution companies, asked them to control animal deaths due to electrocution, install earth leakage circuit breakers at points where incidence of electrocution is high and regular patrolling of lines close to forest areas. In response to this meeting, another was held in October 2005 in which it was decided that energy department should allow forest department staff to monitor electricity lines.

A meeting convened by principal secretary, forests, in August 2008 saw six suggestions emerging. Among other things, the suggestions included a plan for inspection of 11 KVA lines for tripping on earth