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525 elephants die in TN in five years, state yet to receive funds under Project Elephant scheme

- February 4, 2022

Chennai, Feb 4 (BPNS)

In the past five years from 2017 to 2021, the situation of elephant life in Tamil Nadu forests has not been rosy. A study by the state forest department has revealed that 525 wild elephants have perished in the state in these five years.

While 125 elephants lost their lives in 2017,  84 died in 2018, 108 in 2019,110 in 2020, and 98 elephants perished in 2021. However the Union government has not sanctioned a single rupee under ‘Project Elephant’ in the past two years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Chief Wild life warden of Tamil Nadu Shekar Kumar Neeraj while speaking to BPNS said,” The lack of funding has severely created a block in the long-term conservation activities of the department.  We have already submitted a proposal for Rs 20 cr under Project Elephant in Tamil Nadu. There are only 50 days left in the fiscal to get the funding and I understand that the delay was due to the introduction of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for all central schemes.”

He further said that the state was asked to upload the proposal in PFMS again and the department has already done that.  Shekar Kumar Neeraj also said that the state has already received funds under Project Tiger but Project Elephant funds are yet to be released from the Union ministry.

Interestingly Tamil Nadu has received fewer funds compared to other South Indian states like Kerala and Karnataka. While Kerala received 23 crores between 2017 to 2021, Karnataka received 13 crores in the same period but Tamil Nadu got only 9.75 crores.

Tamil Nadu had an elephant population of 4015 jumbos as per the 2012 wildlife census but according to the 2017 census, the state has only 2761 wild elephants. This shows a sharp decline of 38% in the number of elephants.

An official with Project Elephant while speaking to BPNS said,” There are different parameters that are taken into consideration while sanctioning funds Tamil Nadu lags behind Kerala and Karnataka in the density of elephants as per the 2017 census. Past performance and proper utilization of funds are two other parameters that come into consideration while allocating funds.”