| Union minister for environment and forests Jayanthi Natarajan, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and state environment and forest minister Rakibul Hussain at Kaziranga National Park on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, Oct. 10: Union environment and forest minister Jayanthi Natarajan today announced a Rs 1-crore infrastructure development package for Kaziranga National Park in the wake of the devastation caused by the recent floods.
The park may also get an unmanned aircraft to add more teeth to its security infrastructure, which was found lacking during the recent spate of rhino poaching that claimed the lives of six of these vulnerable animals. Four of the deaths occurred in the hills of Karbi Anglong, to which the animals flee to escape floodwaters.
The minister arrived at the national park at 11 this morning on a special helicopter accompanied by chief minister Tarun Gogoi. They held a closed-door meeting with senior officials and state forest minister Rockybul Hussain at the forest inspection bungalow at Kohora about the situation arising out of the recent increase in rhino poaching in and around the park.
Local MLA Arun Phukon, former legislator Jiten Gogoi and senior forest and district administration officials welcomed her at the helipad at Geleky area near the park.
Announcing the package for the park, Natarajan said it would also be provided with five country boats and four speedboats so that proper patrolling could be carried out to protect the animals.
She said the Centre would also consider construction of a flyover in the portion of National Highway 37 that passes through the national park.
A large number of animals are killed on the highway by speeding vehicles, especially during the floods, when the animals have to cross it to reach the safety of highlands in the adjacent Karbi Anglong hills.
Apart from a large number of deer, Kaziranga has lost 104 rhinos 16 to poachers, 28 to floods and 60 to natural causes since January this year.
The Kaziranga authorities made a presentation before the minister, highlighting the flood scenario and the problem of rhinos straying out of the park and falling prey to poachers.
A park official said the minister gave a patient hearing to the presentation made by the authorities and promised to take the necessary steps for proper conservation at the national park.
Natarajan, who was at the park for over three hours, visited the Mihimukh area under Kohora range of the national park to witness the damage wreaked by the recent floods.
The official said an unmanned aircraft would be of great help to keep tabs on the movement of rhinos. An unmanned aircraft would be a great help to keep a watch on the rhinos, especially those which stray out of the park into inaccessible areas and fall easy prey to poachers.