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Assam elephants to endure a 70-hour journey for Jagannath Yatra, activists livid

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New Delhi, June 20: Indian festivals are elaborate and exotic. Each festival has a different set of legends and myths behind it and are part of it's annual rituals. However, what they have in common is the presence of elephants to honor the deity.

Unfortunately, the temple elephants are frequently mistreated. The decorated elephants are forced walk and stand for long periods during the heat, and they find the loud environment distressing.

Assam elephants to endure a 70-hour journey for Jagannath Yatra, activists livid

A perilous journey for the jumbo's

In one such perilous journey, four captive elephants will undertake a perilous 70-hour journey from Assam traversing a distance of 3,100 km to take part in the Rath Yatra, which is slated to be held on July 4 in Jagannath Temple.

The elephants will be taken in a VP coach (a closed non-AC wagon roughly the size of passenger coach usually used to transport goods) which will be attached to a passenger train.

The order has been issued by Assam's Chief Conservator of Forest (Jorhat circle) Ranjan Kumar Das and signed by the Chief Wildlife Warden and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ranjana Gupta, has drawn the ire of

The 3,100 km long journey from Tinsukia to Ahmedabad may be highly risky for the elephants at a time when temperatures are touching 40 degrees and above in north India. Even when Assam hits 28-30 degrees, it is considered hot here. There is a lot of moisture in the air. North India, on the other hand, has dry hot weather and hits 45 degrees and upwards. These are extreme conditions for the elephant to travel.

Another concern is that a large number of jumbos from Arunachal Pradesh and Assam were leased to temples in Kerala, Gujarat and other states, but none returned to their original owners.

Activists to move SC

Animal rights activists have decided to petition the Supreme Court against the proposed "torturous train trip" of four juvenile elephants from the State to Gujarat for a religious event in Ahmedabad.

Why it is controversial

Elephant is a Schedule 1 protected animal and as per the Environment and Forest Ministry, no elephant can be made to walk for more than 3 hours or 30 km at a stretch. Elephants are also not allowed to be transported for 6 hours at a stretch as per guidelines.

What railway law says

Under section 77-A of the Indian Railway Act, the liability of Railways as carriers of animals is limited as specified below, unless the sender elects to pay the percentage charge on value as shown in the Rule 1301: Per Head Elephants Rs.1500/- Horses Rs.750/- Mules, Camels or Horned Cattle Rs.200/- Donkeys, sheep, goats, dogs and other animals or birds Rs.30/

The Railway will not be liable for the loss, destruction or damage arising from freight or restiveness of the animal or from overloading of vehicle or wagon by the consigner or his agent or delay not caused by the negligence or misconduct of their servants, irrespective of whether the sender has engaged to pay the percentage charge on value or not.

Railway will not be responsible for the loss, destruction, damage, deterioration or non-delivery of animals after the termination of transit as defined in Rule 153.

One of the most-awaited festivals in the Orissa state as well as in India, Jagannath Rath Yatra is an annual event, which is celebrated in the month of July. According to traditions, the elephants have the first glimpse of Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, and lead the procession through different parts of the city covering a distance of about 14km.

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