Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala: A Kerala-based animal rights group has found errors in the state government's plan to constitute an Elephant Welfare Board, arguing it violates the provisions of Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and Wildlife Stock Declaration Rule 2013.
In a recent letter to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), the "Heritage Animal Task Force" demanded the intervention of the Centre in revoking the state's decision.
"Chief Minister of Kerala recently directed the officials of the forest department to constitute a 22-member committee as State Elephant Welfare Board. This is an unprecedented move," V K Venkatachalam, secretary of the activist group said.
"This type of jumbo committee, to be formed by the government, has no statutory power to work as Elephant Welfare Board because all the unofficial persons on that board have no statutory power to own an elephant, which is declared as a Heritage animal," it said.
The organisation also criticised the state government's move to collect a particular amount from custodians of elephants, mahouts and festival organisers to provide pension for each mahout who is aged 55.
Collecting money on the basis of a Heritage animal like elephant also violates of the law, it said.
The Task Force alleged that the state government had not arranged any state-managed set up to create a revolving fund for maintenance of any captive elephant in distress.