BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, March 2: The war of words between Assam Governor PB Acharya and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi over ubated rhino poaching, threw off more sparks on Monday after the Governor voiced his strong displeasure on the first day of the Assembly’s budget session.
While speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, the Governor said, “The protection of rhinos is the responsibility of the people of Assam. It is the pride of the State. I cannot accept the fact that rhino killings are going on ubated.”
The Governor, who has been continuously expressing concern over rhino poaching, had earlier said on Sunday that if those responsible for protecting the heritage animal are not up to the mark, they must quit gracefully.
“I had called a meeting with the Forest minister and security officials yesterday (Sunday) to review the situation. The Forest minister did not come but the Director of Kaziranga tiol Park attended. I asked him to submit a report as to what is lacking in the security of the park,” he said, adding, “If those who are responsible for the job cannot do it, I will urge the government to make some other arrangements or give the charge of the park’s security to other agencies.”
On Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s statement that the Governor should not cross his constitutiol limits, PB Acharya said, “I am the Governor and I am doing my duty. I can give suggestions to the State government. But I don’t have any conflict with it.”
On the issue of reported non-submission of utilisation certificates (UCs) to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore to the Centre by the State government, the Governor said, “It needs to be probed first. Whoever is found guilty will be brought to book.”
In response, the Chief Minister said the Governor should remain within his limits. “There are some limits for everyone and one should not go beyond his limit,” Gogoi said, adding, “We are much more concerned about the safety of rhinos in Kaziranga. A proposal has been sent to the Central government for the protection of Kaziranga but it is yet to sanction funds. The Central government too has responsibility towards Kaziranga.”
In his reply to the Governor’s statement that the State Forest minister ought to resign if he cannot protect rhinos in Kaziranga, Etawa Munda said, “If the Governor wants me to resign, he should give it to me in writing and I will decide about it.”
Munda said that the government will submit a report to the Governor within 24 hours through a competent authority.