| Forest minister Rakibul Hussain, forest guards and officials undertake a rhino rescue mission at Rani chapori in Sualkuchi on Tuesday, which ended in failure. File picture |
Guwahati, Oct. 3: The AGP today asked Dispur to take pragmatic measures to save rhinos instead of resorting to mudslinging over the issue.
The regional party alleged that state forest minister Rakibul Hussain was trying to cover up encroachment and rhino killings at Kaziranga National Park by politicising the issues and blaming the AGP for not making concerted efforts to protect wildlife during its term.
“The Congress government is politicising the rhino killings. However, instead of blaming the AGP for not taking adequate measures to save rhinos during the party’s tenure, Dispur should look for solutions and take measures to protect the animals. Only after 16 rhinos were killed this year in Kaziranga, it sent a 50-member forest protection force to the national park,” senior leader Durgadas Boro told reporters here.
The party also minced no words to point out what the forest minister has not done to curb encroachment on forestland.
“Is the forest minister aware of the encroachment taking place in the portion of Kaziranga in Nagaon district? What measures has he taken to tackle the largescale encroachment in Laokhowa reserve forest, which is under his constituency?” asked veteran leader Gunin Hazarika.
“We had evicted several encroachers from forestland in 1987-88 during our term. Now, these encroachers are being welcomed again by the Congress government,” Hazarika added.
The party asked the government to evict the encroachers who have settled in the fringe areas of Kaziranga by December this year.
Boro also said Assam currently topped the forestland encroachment list in the country.
“About 2.59 lakh hectares of forestland in the state are under encroachment. In the past 12 months, 70,685.42 hectares of forestland have been encroached. This information was shared by central forest and environment minister Jayanti Natarajan in the Lok Sabha,” he said.
The AGP questioned the Congress government on the utilisation of funds under the Tenth and Eleventh Five Year plans as well as those allotted in the state budget 2011-12.
It accused chief minister Tarun Gogoi of being irresponsible and adopting an escapist attitude. “At a time when the state was reeling under floods, the chief minister had taken a disaster management delegation to the US for eight days’ training and had recently toured Japan,” he said. “We appeal to the Centre to take immediate measures for relief and rehabilitation of the flood-hit people of Assam.”