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Intel, lab to fight poachers

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By ROOPAK GOSWAMI
  • Published 21.11.13
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Rakibul Hussain addresses the news conference in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Nov. 20: Rattled by the unabated attacks on rhinos in Assam, the state forest department has set up an intelligence cell to collect more information about poachers and is planning to set up a wildlife forensic laboratory.

“The intelligence cell is operational and is working with police to collate more information about poachers and their network,” chief wildlife warden R.P. Agarwalla, who assumed office recently, told The Telegraph.

Already, 34 rhinos have been killed in Assam this year and conservation agencies are expressing concern.

Agarwalla said the idea behind setting up the intelligence cell was to get precise information about poachers from the police. This was decided at a meeting between the state forest department and the state police.

He said chargesheets would have to be filed within a stipulated time so that proper action can be taken against the poachers to improve the rate of conviction.

The chief wildlife warden also said there were plans to set up fast-track courts for prompt trial and punishment of poachers. But for these, clearance has to be taken from the law department.

The forest department is also planning to set up a wildlife forensic laboratory on the lines of Gujarat forensic laboratory. Addressing a news conference here today, forest minister Rakibul Hussain, said his department was in talks with police to find ways to stop arrested poachers from jumping bail. Many offenders out on bail were indulging in poaching again, the forest minister said.

Earlier today, a meeting was held with non-governmental organisations to discuss ways of tackling poaching.

“We want to find out if there are any loopholes in the legal process that can be plugged,” he said.

Hussain said persons found helping poachers would be punished and those helping the forest department in providing information about the poachers would be rewarded.

“Every possible step is being taken in the fight against poachers,” the minister said.

Co-ordination committees have now been set up at the police station level and eco-development committees are being garnered to control poaching. New watchtowers and camps are being set up in Kaziranga.