NAGPUR: Even as the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) registered a primary offence report (POR) against three Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) officials, theMSEDCL has washed its hands off the accidental charring of three leopards on Sunday.
Three leopards (a full-grown male, a female and a cub), a wild boar and a mongoose were charred in Surewani area, adjoiningMansinghdeo wildlife sanctuary, 60 from here, after they came in contact with an electrified pole.

The incident occurred after a live wire of 11 KV line that passes through Surewani came in contact with the transmission pole due to loose insulation. The pole thus became electrified with high voltage current. Normally, this should have led to tripping of supply as poles are earthed, but it did not happen.

However, MSEDCL, instead of admitting its fault, washed its hands off the incident. Regional executive director A D Khaparde said, "Who will decide whether the animals died due to electric current? It may be possible that someone burned the animals and put them near the pole."

Section engineer of Badegaon, Namdeo Navghare, who had visited the mishap site on Sunday, has already admitted that the wild animals died due to electrocution after live wire touched the pole.

To this, Khaparde said, "Let us investigate first. It will not be proper to comment now."

Principal secretary (forests), Praveen Pardeshi, had called a meeting of officials from MSEDCL, forest department and FDCM at Van Bhavan on Monday evening. Pardeshi reprimanded MSEDCL officials for their casual approach and failure to cooperate with the forest department in tracing the culprits in deaths due to electrocution. HoFF A K Joshi and FDCM MD Prakash Thosre were present.

The FDCM on Monday filed a POR against section engineer, Badegaon, assistant engineer, Saoner, and executive engineer with division number 2 for negligence.

The officials were booked under Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) 1972, which implies to hunting. Interestingly, there is no provision in the WPA to book a person for negligence. The FDCM officials also sought legal opinion and plan to register a complaint with electrical inspector under the Electricity Act.
Talking to TOI, Pardeshi said a joint strategy has been worked out wherein the forest department will prepare a list of water holes near Tadoba, Nagzira, Bor, Tipeshwar, Pench and Navegaon from where electric lines pass.

In case of tripping of lines, MSEDCL officials will immediately share information with the forest officials to nail the culprits.
As a new strategy, volunteers will be allowed to take part in patrolling. "We have received a list of 40 volunteers in Chandrapur who are keen to offer their services for protection," Pardeshi said.

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