By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, February 11: Grappling to check the ubated poaching of rhinos in Kaziranga tiol Park, the Forest department is contemplating on setting up more camps inside the park to station guards.
Forest minister Atuwa Munda said he had an extensive tour of the park over the last three/four days, during which he visited 19 camps, interacted with locals and held discussions with the park officials.
“Currently, the average distance between the camps is around 2 km. We have to rrow down this distance between two camps to enhance vigil. For this, additiol camps will have to be set up,” Munda said in an interaction with The Sentinel.
According to him, the poaching mece cannot be stopped completely, but “definitely can be checked”.
“I have accorded top priority to the issue (poaching). We are trying to first find out loopholes in the mechanism. In our prelimiry study, we have found some but cannot reveal those right now. We have to work upon them,” he said.
Munda also admitted shortage of frontline staff was affecting surveillance in the Unesco World Heritage site.
“Initially, we are planning to replace aging forest guards with young personnel. I have already had a discussion about this with officials of the department and the process of transfers will begin shortly,” he said.
He said that a fresh recruitment of forest guards cannot be done at present.
Munda also said he was aware of allegations about various irregularities in the department. “There have been reports of tree felling at the behest of officials, irregularities in sand mahal allocation and in stone quarries. Of course, there are some legal lacue on these issues. But we are determined to check these issues and I won’t compromise on them,” he added.
Poachers have killed six rhinos at KNP this year alone. Over thirty rhinos were poached last year at the park, sparking state-wide protests.
The Forest portfolio was stripped off from Rockybul Hussain following the widespread outcry over the State government’s failure to protect the one-horned rhinos, recognized as the State symbol.