Kochi: Efforts are on to resolve a standoff between the elephant owners and the administration over the ban on a famed tusker belonging to the Thechikottukavu Devaswom from participating in public events. The Kerala High Court has said it would not intervene in the ban imposed on tusker Thechikottukavu Ramachandran from being paraded in the famed Thrissur Pooram to be held on May 13 and 14.
"It is for the collector-headed panel to take a decision on this," the court observed.
The court made the observations while considering a petition filed against the ban imposed by Thrissur district collector T V Anupama.
A final decision on the row is likely to be taken by the collector-headed panel on Friday.
A standoff ensued after the elephant owners said they would not provide tuskers for Thrissur Pooram and other festivals until the ban imposed on Thechikottukavu Ramachandran was revoked. Though ministers and elephant owners conducted talks to resolve the issue, they were awaiting an order from the HC.
Curbs were imposed on Ramachandran, the elephant at the centre of the row, after it had run amok at Guruvayur after firecrackers were burst near it, leading to the death of two people.
The collector had made it clear on Thursday that a ban would be imposed on those elephants that run amok on hearing the sound of firecrackers. The ban was also effective on elephants in musth or that were aggressive, she added.
"The ban is effective from May 12 to 14. The list of devasowms (administrative body of temples) was made after omitting such elephants,” the collector said.
Bid to ease standoff
Devaswom minister Kadakampally Surendran had earlier assured the elephant owners' association and people that the government would take all steps necessary to conduct Thrissur Pooram in all its grandeur.
The government held meetings with the elephant owners after they declared that tuskers will not be provided for other festivals until Ramachandran was allowed to take part in Thrissur Pooram.
Minister V S Sunil Kumar too said he hoped that elephant owners would back off from their decision not to provide tuskers for Pooram.
"Elephant owners were very positive during the meet. The government respects faith and customs. Pooram should be held in all its splendour. Other decisions will be taken once the chief minister is back. Thechikottukavu Ramachandran will not be taken for Thrissur Pooram. However, the tusker will be part of a function on the eve of Pooram for some time. It's for the collector-headed panel to take a decision on this. The collector will take an appropriate decision on this," Sunil Kumar said after the meeting.
K B Ganesh Kumar, MLA, who represented the elephant owners at the meeting, too said the meet with the government was positive. "The forest department is creating problems now. Because of the department's standpoint, not just Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, other elephants too are not able to take part in festivals. The elephant owners were forced to take such a tough decision," he said.
Ganesh also alleged that forest minister K Raju had backtracked from the decision taken at a joint meeting of the ministers, MLAs and elephant owners, "The meet had decided to allow Thechikottukavu Ramachandran to take part in festivals in Thrissur district for three days in a week. Then without consulting anyone else the minster changed the decision. Raju's stance on the issue was unfortunate," said Ganesh, who is also the state president of Elephant Owners’ Federation.
"Individuals provide elephants to Thrissur Pooram without taking any fee. Rumours that they make lot of profit out of these are false. Rs 36 lakh is needed every year for taking care of Thechikottukavu Ramachandran. Salary for four mahouts too has to be disbursed. It is wrong to say that the tusker has eyesight problems. Ninety elephants are needed for Thrissur Pooram. Media should check whether the devaswom has that many elephants," Ganesh added.