‘Everybody’ in a race to transport elephants to Ahmedabad

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Assam Forest authorities, Veterinarians, transporters are in a great race to beat a 5 day window to navigate not only through 3000 km road trip from Tinsukia to Ahmedabad but through the legal tangles to catch the Ahmedabad Rath yatra beginning on July 4 so that four elephants of Assam can reach in time.

An unnamed yet but very powerful business house has offered the elephant to the Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad and they hired the elephants on lease for six months from the owner of Assam for the ceremony.

But the environmentalist lobby feel that it was just a pretext and actually the elephants have been sold to the business house and only to circumnavigate the the Supreme Court ban of inter state sale of elephants such a long rope has been thrown in.

(Representative Image)

But as the environmentalists approached court and railways refused to move them without legal clarity, it has become a race against time for the transporters, who are bent on to outsmart the legalities and reach the Ahmedabad temple premised by July 1.

The Tuesday court order was also ambiguous and that gave scope to the Forest authorities and the transporters to work in tandem to arrange the transportation and  please the business house authorities.

Now even after two court orders, one from Supreme Court and other from the Gauhati High court, the business house have literally forced the Forest authorities of Assam to burn midnight oil to ensure dispatch of elephants by tonight.

According to latest reports from the ground, papers are prepared to circumnavigate the Supreme Court Order and take out elephants within next 24 hours by road in a convoy 7 vehicles with four trucks carrying four elephants and support staff in three other vehicles. A team of vets is also roped in.

The Elephants generally shall take a week time to travel the Tinsukia-Ahmedabad distance, which has left the Forest authorities in a tight spot.   The Rath Yatra is starting on July 4 and elephant must reach by July 1 to take rest and get prepared.

Again a live animal can not be transported non stop. It has to stop 12 hours for every 12 hours drive. So if the trucks leave by tonight or tomorrow, there is a possibility of reaching by July 1 and hence all are working round the clock to make that happen.

But everyone is amused by the power of that business house which forced entire Assam Forest Department and Assam Cabinet to not only toe their line but leave all other works.

The way the top honchos of the Assam Forest Department is following this case and going all out to transport the elephants, as if that is the most urgent work of the department to save the forest of Assam.

Yesterday he Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court comprising of Chief Justice (Acting) Mr. Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Manish Choudhury disposed of the PIL seeking intervention of the High Court in regard to the decision of the State Government taken to transport on lease for six months four elephants from Tinsukia in upper Assam to Ahmedabad in Gujarat for participating in the Annual Rath Yatra festival to be held from 4th of July, 2019.

The Division Bench by order dated 25.06.2019 (Tuesday) expressed that it is ill-fit to make any comment as to in what manner the elephants are to be transported.

Therefore, this obligation was passed by the Division Bench to the Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife) and Chief Wild Life Warden, Assam to take the final call who are responding by transporting the elephants by circumnavigating the legal tangles.

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