A jumbo wish of a senior citizen in Bengal

March 10th, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by admin  

By Soudhriti Bhabani
Kolkata, March 10 (IANS) It’s indeed a jumbo-sized wish. A businessman in West Bengal wants to adopt an elephant, prompting the state government to mull over a legal amendment to fulfil the 65-year-old’s desire. Jute mill owner Om Prakash Mal from Kolkata’s twin town Howarh is one of the two people who have evinced interest in elephant adoption. The West Bengal government, which spends quite a fortune on maintenance of elephants, seems game to the idea and even ready for a legal amendment to facilitate the same.

Mal has written a letter to West Bengal Forest Minister Ananta Roy, expressing his desire to adopt an elephant. He wants to go on a forest safari with his grandchildren atop his adopted jumbo.

He has already made arrangements to accommodate the elephant in his Gorumara guesthouse in north Bengal, a report said.

“When I get tired of living a boring life at my Howrah residence, I would go to my Gorumara guesthouse and take an elephant ride into the forest. I don’t care what the cost would be. I am ready to spend millions on this,” he said.

“If we could assist people like Om Prakash in adopting an elephant, it will help us cut our expenditure on elephant maintenance. Since the law in our state does not allow us to do so, we are mulling an amendment to it very soon,” Roy told IANS.

He said that every month the state forest department has to spend on each elephant about Rs.10,000-12,000, including the expenditure on their food, medicine and attendants.

He said there are altogether 76 elephants in West Bengal forest territories, of which 56 are in Jaldapara forest, 12 in Gorumara and eight in Buxa forest of north Bengal.

“We have already sent two elephants to Japan and on March 19 we are also sending five elephants to a zoo in Uttar Pradesh,” Roy said, adding that practically there’s no work for these elephants in the state.

He said another jute mill owner has also expressed his interest to adopt an elephant and given a proposal to the department.

“We are trying to bring in a provision in the law so that it can allow one to adopt an elephant,” the minister said.

No one can take personal possession of an elephant in West Bengal, according to the law.

The state government can only hand over an elephant to other states or any other country. Even for that it requires the permission of the chief wildlife warden of the state and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

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