MeECL negligence in focus after hoolock gibbon electrocution
Hoolock Gibbon (File photo)

Tura: A western hoolock gibbon (locally known as huro) was killed after it accidentally touched a high-tension wire in the Addinggre locality in the town of Tura in Meghalaya on Saturday.

The incident was reportedly the fourth of such instance of gibbon electrocution in the past few years. The ‘huro’ family, which comprised 7 members, now has only 3 more members left and is amongst a few gibbons who felt comfortable living so close to human habitat.

The area of the incident is near Gandrak, close to the boundary of the Tura peak.

The death of the gibbon has put the Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) in the limelight once again after reports of multiple complaints made by locals of the HT wire passing close to the boudnary of the Tura Peak, going completely unheeded.

What is worse is the fact that both the Wildlife department as well as the Tura Municipal Board (TMB) raised the same matter and sought a solution, something that the power department has completely ignored.

“This is the second Huro death during my time as the DFO of Wildlife due to electrocution. We have sent multiple representations to the MeECL asking them to either put up an insulated line or to move the towers to a location that will be safer to both the Huros as well as locals. A reminder was sent to them early this year as well, but they have done nothing about it and this is the result,” informed DFO – wildlife, Rupankar Marak.

Following complaints made by residents, the TMB in December 2021, had directed the MePDCL to ensure strict compliance provided under Sec 53 of the Electricity Act, 2003. The TMB had directed the EE of MePDCL to consult with the DFO on the issue of crossing of huros. It had also directed the power department to obtain NOCs from DFO (forest) for the felling trees if required. TMB further mooted that safety of the animals and security of the public was paramount. However, despite the passage of 2 years, the department has not even moved an inch with regard to compliance of the directions.

The villagers stated that they have made multiple complaints over the years to the MeECL and despite assurances that a fix would be brought about, nothing has changed. What is even more interesting is that the power department required NOCs from both the wildlife department as well as the residents of the area in question but took none. They just dashed their way through and set up the HT wires through Addinggre.

Hoolock gibbons habit the entire Nokrek biosphere though the immensely shy animals rarely come close to human habitation. They are revered by locals who ensure the animals are rarely disturbed

“We have given them multiple complaints asking them to either shift the tower lines as it falls near trees. One of these trees (a banyan tree) is the home of the huros that live among us. We were pleasantly surprised when they came so close to living with us and they were the attractions to our children and visitors. Unfortunately this criminal neglect shown by the MeECL has literally wiped out the entire huro family,” informed Dulal Sangma, a local from Addinggre.

Wildlife officials stated that the huro that was killed today weighed about 6 kgs and was a female.

Upon being informed of the incident, deputy commissioner of WGH, Jagdish Chelani said that he would look into the matter and speak to power department officials to seek information of action taken on the complaints.

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Social media has been aghast at the electrocution of the gibbon for what they felt was criminal neglect by the power department.

“It is the duty of every one to protect these rare animals, including the people from the power department. What they have done is highly condemnable and needs to be questioned. They need to take responsibility for almost wiping out an entire gibbon family. Are 4 gibbon deaths not enough to wake up from their slumber,” one resident questioned.

MeECL officials could not be reached for comment.

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