Bhubaneswar: A four-member team of Crime Branch led by superintendent of police MS Sampad arrived at Kamalanga village in Dhenkanal district Sunday evening at the behest of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who ordered a CB probe into electrocution of seven elephants in the district Saturday.
The team which began an investigation at the spot questioned local residents about the mishap and collected evidence that could have led to electrocution of the elephants.
The officials also interrogated the forest and Central Electricity Supply Utility (CESU) personnel in this connection and took stock of the situation caused due to dangling 11-kv wire at the mishap site. They examined the circumstantial evidence which needed verification on the basis of police complaints, the CB officials said.
The forest department had filed an FIR against five senior officials of power department at Kantabania police station. The Bharatiya Janata Party led by former Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayan Pani also lodged an FIR at the police station demanding action against the forest and energy minister, their secretaries and the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF).
PCCF Sandip Tripathi, SP Santosh Kumar Nayak, DFO Sudarsan Patra, ACF Jeetendranath Das and SDPO Sk Abdul Karim visited the spot in the afternoon and took stock of the situation. After the visit, Tripathi warned forest officials that they must ensure that such incidents do not occur in future. A post-mortem was conducted and carcasses of some of the elephants were buried at the spot.
Earlier, six officials – three each of the CESU and forest department – were suspended and a junior engineer (CESU) dismissed after seven jumbos, including a tusker and five female elephants were electrocuted as they came in contact with a high powered line near Kamalanga, said an official.
A general manager, one sub-divisional officer and a CESU lineman were suspended, while a junior engineer was terminated, said a CESU official. Similarly, a forest range officer, a forester and a forest guard were suspended for dereliction of duty, he said.
“Besides ordering a CB inquiry, the Chief Minister has ordered appropriate action in case of any criminal negligence,” said an official of CMO. The death of the elephants drew sharp criticism from the Opposition parties with both the Congress and the BJP accusing the state government of “utter negligence”.
BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan slammed the state government for the incident and claimed that several animals perished earlier due to lack of coordination between the forest department and CESU under the Energy department. “It is a matter of regret that one hand of the state government is not aware of what the other hand is doing,” Pradhan tweeted. Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray had Saturday said CESU had been warned of the matter long ago, but no corrective steps were taken.