Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service
Guwahati, March 2
Assam Forest Minister Atuwa Munda decided to ignore an urgent summons from Assam Governor PB Acharya to meet him at the Raj Bhavan here yesterday citing prior engagement, but the director of Kaziranga National Park (KNP) MK Yadava had to rush to the Raj Bhavan to face the ire of the Governor who was appalled at rising incidents of poaching of one-horned rhino in the ‘well-protected’ National Park.
Expressing grave concern over the killing of another rhino in Kaziranga on Friday — the sixth one to be poached this year — the Governor commented that the poachers hadn’t parachuted to the Kaziranga grassland to kill rhinos. He wondered why despite the deployment of 1,200 anti-poaching personnel, the state Forest Department hasn’t been able to prevent their poaching. “If they can’t act, they must resign,” the Governor commented.
“The poachers must be taking shelter in the fringe areas of the park. The security personnel must identify and apprehend them. If anyone found aiding the poachers, strong action should be taken against them,” the Governor said. The Governor has sought a written report from the KNP director on rhino poaching in the park and the steps that are being taken to stop the menace.
The Forest Department and the KNP authority have been maintaining that the weapons provided to the anti-poaching staff in Kaziranga Park can hardly match the sophisticated weapons used by the poachers and it has been a major hurdle in the sustained efforts to curb poaching.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi reacted sharply to the Governor summoning the Forest Minister and stated that no one should cross the line.
Referring to his open criticism of the government in preventing rhino poaching, the Governor today reiterated that there was scope for improvement and the CM had supported him on this aspect. “We are together against rhino poaching. A small group of criminals is challenging the government,” the Governor said.
The Governor also dismissed allegations that he was being critical of the government as it was headed by the Congress and said, “I am concerned about the development of the state. I am the Governor of the state, and not a party man anymore.”
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