Kerala High Court Sets 6-Meter Safety Distance Between Elephants and Spectators at Thrissur Pooram Festival.

The Kerala High Court has taken a significant step to ensure public safety by mandating a six-meter distance between elephants and crowds during the Thrissur Pooram festival. The decision was made by the Vacation Bench of Justice Jayshankaran Nambiar and Justice P. Gopinath on Monday, following a revision of earlier, more stringent guidelines issued by the Forest Department.

Previously, the Forest Department had retracted its order that required a 50-meter distance between elephants and crowds after backlash from various stakeholders, including temple authorities. The modified order, which reduces the distance to six meters, aims to prevent any distress to the elephants during the festivities.

The court’s order also exempts the ceremonial ‘Kuthuvilakku’ from these restrictions but maintains them for other high-intensity events such as Thevatti and Chenda Melam, which will not feature elephants. This decision has been taken in consideration of the extreme heat conditions prevalent in Kerala, highlighting the need for these precautions.

A key component of the court’s order is the scheduled fitness test for elephants, set to be conducted on April 18, a day before Pooram. The test will be overseen by a committee chaired by the District Collector and will evaluate the health and readiness of around 100 participating elephants. The court emphasized the importance of maintaining fitness certificates to prevent any unfortunate incidents during the festival.

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Moreover, during the proceedings, the court inquired about the fitness certification of Thechikottukavu Ramachandran, the oldest elephant, who is visually impaired. The Forest Department confirmed that Ramachandran had received six certificates, certified by three doctors. The court noted that if Ramachandran participates in the festival, his handlers must assume full responsibility for his well-being.

Additionally, the High Court has instructed the Cochin Devaswom Board and the Thrissur Corporation to ensure the sanctity and cleanliness of the Thekkinkadu Maidan.

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