The four elephants that will be sent to Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad by Assam Forest Department will be moved tonight by Brahmaputra Mail Express to avoid the PIL which is likely to be moved on Monday.
A Guwahati-based NGO, Avinava Prayash has filed a PIL at Gauhati High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India challenging the action of Assam Forest Department to transport four elephants amidst the heat wave in North India.
On Friday, Congress MP from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi also moved a Zero Hour notice in Lok Sabha and appealed that the transportation of four elephants from the state to the Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad should be stopped.
Taking into account of the ongoing heat wave in North India, Gaurav Gogoi said that the Ministry of environment and forest should intervene and immediately stop the process of transportation of the elephants.
Meanwhile, an RTI report filed by Sonitpur-based RTI activist Dilip Chandra Nath said that since 2007, 53 elephants were sent outside by the forest department but none of them came back. The report said that these elephants are being sent on a lease for a period of six months or one year but even after the period gets over, the elephants never come back. During the period of 2008-10, 36 elephants were sent to different states.
Nath said that after 2010, the trend of sending elephants to outside has gone down but now it seems that the forest department is going to start the trend again by sending the four elephants to Gujarat.
Nath further informed that the 36 elephants that were sent outside during 2008-10, 32 were being sent to take part in religious functions and among these 32 elephants, 17 were sent to Bihar, eight to Uttar Pradesh, two each to Karnataka and West Bengal and one each to Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.
Moreover, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had also raised questions in Parliament last year regarding transportation of elephants from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to temples of Kerala. Tharoor said that there were 518 elephants in Kerala without ownership certificate and most of the elephants were being taken from Northeast.