Durgapur, June 24: The owner of a company running a deer park here on lease from the Asansol-Durgapur Development Authority was arrested today for the alleged deaths of 31 deer under mysterious circumstances since 1998.
Prabir Sarkar, the owner of Troika Parks Project, and two of his associates were charged under provisions of the Wildlife Act after the authority lodged an FIR with the Durgapur police station last night.
The authority has rendered null and void an agreement it had signed with Troika Parks in 1998, leasing out the park to the company for a period of 10 years. “The deer park is now under the direct control of the authority but a toy train project in the area will still be run by the company,” said Biprendu Chakraborty, a member of the development board and the mayor-in-council of the steel city’s civic body.
Forest department officers and officials of the Durgapur Municipal Corporation met at the authority’s office yesterday to discuss the mysterious disappearance of 31 deer from the park located in the city centre.
An inquiry committee was formed after the meeting, which was attended by the divisional forest officer of Durgapur, the sub-divisional police officer, member, mayor-in-council (animal health) of the civic body, an assistant executive officer of the authority and the sub-divisional-veterinary surgeon.
Asked a few days ago about why the deer were dying out in the park, Sarkar had pleaded ignorance. “Wild foxes are eating up the new-born and that has stopped any increase in the deer population. Moreover, we did not verify the number of deer in the park while signing the MoU (with the authority),” he had said.
The authority had been scrutinising the activities in the park after its attention was drawn to the fact that a large number of animals had disappeared in the past few years.
“We suspected that something fishy was going on as none of the deaths of the animals were reported to us and there was no evidence on how the carcasses were disposed. What happened to the antlers and the hides'” asked Yadav Mondol, the assistant executive officer of the development authority.
The forest department, too, took strong exception to a private party operating a deer park without proper permission. Wildlife is under the direct control of the department. The chief wildlife warden of the state had sent a letter to the development authority saying the deer park was being run on its property without any clearance from the Central Zoo Authority.
Sarkar, incidentally, is the brother of influential CPM zonal committee secretary Sukhen Sarkar.