A leopard was spotted in the Manesar plant of India’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki during the wee hours of Thursday. It was seen strolling inside the engine department of the plant around 3:40 a.m. by a security guard. As the Times of India reported, the animal was first spotted near Gate no. 2.
At that moment, the leopard was already inside the plant premise and growled at the guard who immediately ran for life and informed the control room. Machines were stopped and an immediate evacuation of the 600 acre premise of the plant was carried out. At that time, there were close to 500 employees inside the plant, out of which 350 were workers and 150 were security guards. Also, there were several loaders and truck drivers.
According to media reports, Maruti will suffer a loss due to halt of production because of the leopard. While Amar Ujala claims that the loss will be to the tune of Rs.125 crore, Dainik Bhaskar quotes an official saying that the loss will be to the tune of Rs.86 crore. Financial Express reports that the company is evaluating the loss.
A single shift produces 1200 engines at the plant.
The forest department was informed around 5:30 am and the rescue operation began an hour later. Rescue operations were carried out with the help of pugmarks seen in the CCTV footage. Several efforts such as making use of firecrackers to force the animal to reveal its whereabouts, and bringing goats as live bait inside the premise to lure it were made by the rescue team.
However, the big cat managed to dodge the team while it kept making momentary appearances on the CCTV through the day. It has still not been caught even though forest department officers armed with tranquilizer guns were present.
Inspector Narendra Yadav, SHO of Manesar IMT police station said that the leopard was spotted a dozen times in the CCTV footage of production wing, open parking areas and corridors of the Powertrain compound.
Thousands of employees had arrived for the morning shift around 7 a.m. but were asked to wait outside the plant. Fortunately, no mishap or accident with any of the employees took place.
The leopard is believed to have strayed from nearby forest area of the Aravalis and made an entry into the compound while looking for food in neighboring Kasan village. The operations at the factory remained suspended until 3 p.m. but were then resumed as the fear of the leopard ended.