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Court pat for park report

A rhino in Kaziranga National Park. File picture

Guwahati, Aug. 6: Dispur has received a pat from Gauhati High Court for doing a “commendable job” of preparing a detailed report on protecting rhinos and other wildlife species in Kaziranga National Park.

The court’s observation should come as a relief to the Assam government, which has been facing a lot of flak for the past few years over the spurt in rhino poaching. The issue was even a major poll plank during the election rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the state before the Lok Sabha polls. As many as 27 rhinos were killed in Kaziranga alone last year, and this year the toll has already crossed 20, exposing Dispur and the forest department to widespread criticism.

Additional advocate-general Devajit Saikia told The Telegraph that a high court division bench of Chief Justice A.M. Sapre and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, while accepting the over 500-page report submitted by the park director M.K. Yadava yesterday on record, had made the observation about Dispur doing a “commendable job” of preparing the report after several rounds of deliberations and consultations with wildlife experts from South Africa, Nepal and from India in the last five months. Saikia said the division bench has asked Dispur to furnish the reports to its rival parties for their responses so the court could pass a detailed order in the case on August 26.

The court had asked Dispur to submit a detailed report on March 4 this year.

The three-part report dealt with problems faced by Kaziranga, including poaching and shortage of area. The second part focussed on various measures to be undertaken and suggested to overcome the problem, while the third part dealt with roadmaps and data, including ways to generate funds for implementing measures to save wildlife.

Sources said the report has stressed the need for a balance between development and conservation, effective coordination between the intelligence, investigating and security agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau, the CBI, paramilitary and police forces. The report, it said, said that expansion of the park area needed serious consideration because the number of one-horned rhinos, the state animal, in Kaziranga had increased to 2,325 in 2013 from 2,048 in 2009.