Friday, October 21, 2011

RSS moved for CBI probe into missing Panna tigers: TOI Report

NAGPUR: After Madhya Pradesh high court dismissed a PIL seeking CBI probe into tiger deaths inside Panna tiger reserve and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s lack of response on demand for an inquiry, the Bhopal-based environment protection NGO Prayatna has knocked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) doors at Nagpur.

Ajay Dubey, secretary of Prayatna, an environmental action group, has in a letter written to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on October 16 requested to support the demand to institute a CBI inquiry into the disappearance of tigers in Panna reserve. Dubey drew Bhagwat’s attention towards missing tigers as a result of poaching in Panna in Madhya Pradesh. Panna lost its entire tiger population in 2008.

The special investigation team (SIT) headed by former National Tiger Conservation Authority(NTCA) member-secretary PK Sen in its report in 2009 had admitted that poaching was the main reason behind disappearance of tigers. On the basis of Sen’s report, the NTCA advised MP government in September 2009 to initiate a CBI inquiry. However, the government is yet to act.

In between, the government formed another committee in 2009 to probe disappearance of tigers in Panna. The committee in its report submitted to the government in February 2010 said that poaching was a major reason for disappearance of tigers. It recommended an action plan but the government failed to implement it, Dubey alleged.

The latest is that a report submitted by Panna field director RS Murthy in February 2011 clearly exposes poaching. He has submitted a large number of poaching cases which were not investigated properly by Panna officials.

“It is very painful for the people of MP to know that according to the tiger census figures of March 2011, the state lost the status of tiger state with only 257 tigers,” Dubey’s letter states.

Scientific studies show that Panna at one time had a healthy tiger population of 35-40. However, all these tigers have been poached. The tigers lost in Panna are at least twice the number of tigers lost in Sariska. Rajasthan government instituted a CBI inquiry in Sariska to establish the cause but the MP government has not.

Dubey has apprised Bhagwat that due to CBI inquiry in Sariska, several culprits were caught and accountability was fixed against the officials concerned. However, in case of Panna, no official has been held accountable. The state government has also failed to notify buffer zone around Panna which is mandatory as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Prayatna suspects that poachers in MP have links with international mafia involved in smuggling tiger skin and its body parts to China. There is a nexus between international mafia and officials of Panna reserve, Dubey wrote to Bhagwat.

Looking into the seriousness of the issue, Dubey has urged Bhagwat to ask Chouhan to take steps to initiate a CBI inquiry.

“Our several requests to Chouhan went in vain. The lack of response by the government is encouraging smugglers and mafia to wipe out remaining tiger population in the state. Our national animal is under grave threat and hence request you to save the national pride,” Dubey has said.


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