Large-scale encroachment, aging guards, defective weapons, zero conviction of poachers are bane of KNP
* Anti-poaching camps and watch towers at strategic locations along the park boundary
* Strong periphery protection network with constant patrolling
* Formation of a KNP-centric frontline cadre with additiol allowances and benefits.
* Database of licensed weapons around the park needs to be put in place
* Extensive search for unlicensed weapons in the fringe villages of the park
* Formation of a dedicated intelligence wing to handle intelligence gathering and investigation of wildlife offence cases
By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 31: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had found loopholes in the magement plans in Kaziranga tiol Park which have been abetting poaching activities in the Unesco World Heritage Site.
“Deficiencies in funding adversely affected the magement of wetland/grassland. Negligence of the Revenue department as well as the KNP authorities had hampered taking over of the possession of land falling under 2nd, 3rd and 5th addition areas. Taking benefit of this, large scale encroachment, both human settlements as well as cultivations, took place in these areas. The entire population evicted from the 1st addition had resettled illegally on the other side of NH 37. Though the 6th addition is strategically important, protracted litigations and interferences from various quarters had resulted in continuing encroachments with crimil activities like poaching,” a report of the CAG titled ‘Performance audit of KNP – Issues and Challenges’ stated.
The CAG also noted that there was dearth of anti-poaching camps on the boundary coupled with foolproof periphery protection plan. A number of anti-poaching camps were in dilapidated condition, during the CAG audit.
“Arbitrary transfer of newly recruited staff from KNP has resulted in majority of the personnel manning the frontline workforce being above 45 years. None of the frontline staff had undergone any training during the last five years,” the CAG report said.
The Forest department also did not initiate action to alyse the reasons behind zero conviction of poachers over the years, it said.
Besides, deficiencies in weaponry and gadgetry added to the constraints of the forest guards in effectively resisting the poaching attempts. The CAG also noted that the Eco Sensitive Zone could not be filized and notified for more than 12 years, while even the default notification of the Government of India dated July 2013 (declaring area of 10 km from the park boundary as ESZ) had not been acted upon. “Consequently, there had been largescale construction of houses, multistoried buildings, resorts, dhabas, parking lots etc in the ESZ.
“In the wake of immense pressure on poaching, the most important aspect of wildlife magement – magement of habitats, took the back seat,” it noted.
In a slew of suggestions, the CAG said anti-poaching camps and watch towers need to be installed at strategic locations along the park boundary. This should be backed by strong periphery protection network with constant patrolling.
The CAG felt that the frontline staffing system needs to be revamped to inject able-bodied personnel for protection duties. It further suggested formation of a KNP-centric frontline cadre with additiol allowances and benefits.
Besides deployment of sophisticated weaponry and gadgets, the CAG said that a database of licensed weapons around the park needs to be put in place. “An extensive search should be launched for unlicensed weapons in the fringe villages of the park,” it said.
Laying stress on intelligence gathering, the CAG suggested formation of a dedicated intelligence wing to handle intelligence gathering and investigation of wildlife offence cases.