SC seeks report on elephant abuse in Kerala festival

About 100 elephants are paraded every year during Thrissur Pooram

 
By M Suchitra
Published: Monday 11 May 2015

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The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Kerala government seeking an explanation on how captive elephants were paraded and abused during the Pooram festival. The festival was held in Kerala's Thrissur city on April 29.

The court was considering a report that was filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India. Submitted on May 4, the report detailed the physical and mental torture that captive elephants were subjected to during the festival. The petition pointed out that both the state government and the festival organisers had violated various laws while parading the elephants.

Thrissur Pooram is the biggest annual temple festival in Kerala.

About 100 elephants are paraded every year during this festival by two groups of temples. Down To Earth had published a report when the festival was being held.

According to the report submitted by the board, Pooram organisers did not have the mandatory permission from the board to parade the captive elephants. 

The Kerala government, instead of strictly implementing the rules and regulations, turned a blind eye to the abuses while being hand in glove with the festival organisers, accused the Board. The complaint also said there was no proper document on the physical and mental status of the elephants paraded in the festival. Though 79 out of 84 elephants had fitness certificate issued by veterinary doctors of the state animal husbandry department, many of them actually suffered from "very poor body condition, painful abscesses, infected wounds and bruises, partial vision loss, mutilated tail and foot diseases", said the report. It further added that some of the elephants also showed signs of severe mental stress.

Before the festival, the board had written a letter to the state government pointing out that the festival organisers had not secured the mandatory permission from the board for parading the elephants. However, the state government had made it clear that it would not intervene with the age-old practice of parading elephants during Pooram. "If anyone has any complaints with regard to the upkeep of the animals during the festivities, they can bring it to the notice of the government which will then look into it. But there is no question of any interference with the traditional practices and rituals of the Pooram," said state forest minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan while responding to the complaint.

 

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