State defends using elephant to carry golden howdah

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DASARABangalore, August 28:  The State government on Tuesday defended before the Karnataka High Court its decision to reject the elephant task force’s recommendation to either reduce the weight of the golden howdah used during the Dasara procession or carry the howdah in a chariot drawn by an elephant.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna made it clear orally that the court would not interfere with the government’s decision as long as there is no violation of any laws, including the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, in the use of the elephant to carry the howdah.

The Bench was hearing recommendations made by the task force on addressing the issue of man-elephant conflict.

While defending the government’s decision to reject the High Court-appointed task force’s recommendation about use of an elephant to carry the howdah, government counsel Raveendra G. Kolle told the Bench that the State cannot ignore the sentiments of the people by discontinuing the practice of having an elephant carry the howdah, while pointing out that in the earlier years, the Maharaja used sit inside the howdah and now the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari is taken out in the procession.

Mr. Kolle said that the use of elephants in the howdah procession does not amount to cruelty. “We worship elephants during the Dasara festival,” he added.

G.S. Prabhu, State’s Chief Wildlife Warden, told the Bench that the department takes care of the elephants used for Dasara.

On the recommendation made, Raman Sukumar, task force chairman and Professor of Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, told the Benchthat they had received representations from animal welfare groups against the use of elephants during Dasara

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