Conservation group demands credible probe into Bamunipahar incident


Guwahati: Expressing utter dissatisfactions over an investigation report of Assam forest department declaring that the
lightning killed a herd of  wild Asiatic elephants over Bamunipahar forestry on 13 May, an active biodiversity conservation group of
northeast India demands a high level scientific probe into the mysterious deaths of 18 animals.
Nature’s Beckon in an appeal to State chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday urged to constitute a committee comprising members
from the field of Geology, Electrical Engineering, Science of Lightning (Thundering) along with the representatives from Zoological
Survey of India,  Wildlife Institute of India, Police department and civil society groups.
Mentioning about the 90 pages investigation report, released by State forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya during a press conference held on
3 June in the city after repeated demands from various organisations and environment enthusiasts, the influential conservation group termed
it as ‘a pile of unnecessary details, which are being added to make the document appears credible’.
“The probe committee did not have lightning experts, electrical engineers, geo-physicists, forensic experts, crime branch personnel,
local representatives, etc, but only veterinarians, who are directly or indirectly related to the forest department. Moreover, all the
tests were conducted  in their own laboratories keeping no space for independent test-centres,” claimed Nature’s Beckon adding that anyone
found guilty of destroying or hiding evidences must be convicted. Minister Suklabaidya, form the very beginning, continues asserting
that all the jumbos on Bamunipahar under Kundalini reserve forest in Nagaon district died of a massive thunderbolt. For the obvious reason,
the departmental enquiry involved only two elephants for necessary dissections keeping as many as 16 animals out of any forensic
examinations, claimed Nature’s Beckon’s director Soumyadeep Datta. To prove that all the elephants died because of the electrocution by
lightning, the ear-drums of the victims should have been examined. Moreover, the sensitive organ (to thunderbolt impact) like heart (of
every elephant) was not thoroughly investigated. The committee mentioned that samples were collected randomly, but did not specify
any carcass, which is nothing but an attempt to hide important evidences, asserted conservationist Bhaskar J Barua.
Finally, Novanita Sharma, another member of Nature’s Beckon raised a pertinent question that if the Bamunipahar area was an elephant
habitat  and a popular animal corridor(as mentioned in the released report), how the forest department could provide a no-objection
certificate to a giant solar power project in the locality. Moreover, it added, a group of local youths urged the minister during his visit
to the site to investigate the matter, but why he did not pay attention to them.