Thiruvananthapuram | Animal rights campaigners today alleged that the Animal Welfare Board of India experts had been blocked from examining the jumbos, paraded at the famous Thrissur Pooram festival which began today, amid strict guidelines for its conduct. As many as 79 elephants are being tortured by making the pachyderms stand in direct sunlight as part of the 36-hour-long festival, they said.
A team of six veterinarians, appointed by AWBI, were collectively prevented by officials of state Animal Husbandry and Forest Departments along with Thrissur district collector and police yesterday, V K Venkitachalam, secretary of Heritage Animal Task Force, a Thrissur-based animal rights forum, alleged. Citing the issues, he sent a letter today to the Director, Project Elephant, under the Union government, demanding action against the officials for misuse of power.
In the letter, he said the Supreme Court had ordered the Kerala government to reconstitute the district level elephant monitoring committee chaired by the Collector by adding a new member nominated by AWBI for each district in Kerala.
The apex court had also reiterated that any elephant parade in each district must be approved by such a newly constituted district level elephant monitoring committee, the letter, which was released to the media, said.
But yesterday, with the tacit support of Thrissur district Collector, the veterinary doctors appointed by AWBI were prevented from inspecting the health conditions of the elephants, it said. This type of blatant misuse of official power by the collector must be inquired in detail and such violations must be penalised at the earliest, it added.
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