Saturday, July 26, 2008

Move over PETA

July 23, 2008

h/l: Forest control rooms to check poaching
intro: State plans 33 control rooms to keep wildlife cruelty in check

Mumbai: As cases of poaching and maiming wild animals in the State's jungles come to light, the government has given the State's citizens a good chance to help combat poaching and cruelty against wildlife. Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute has announced his department's ongoing project of setting up control rooms in 33 districts to register calls from concerned citizens.

Pachpute made the announcement via a written reply to a question put to him by MLAs Sudhir Mungantivar and others on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.

A senior official from Pachpute's office said, "Excluding two districts in Mumbai, 33 districts will have control rooms where people who have spotted a hunting activity or cruelty towards wild animals can call and register a complaint."

The control rooms would be attached with the local forest office and would have a fast access short code. The short code, to be operationalised by BSNL, would be the same all over the State and would be designated only for the use of registering these complaints.

Considering that major poaching activities for ivory and cutting down of sandalwood takes place after dark, the helplines would run for 24 hours. The assistant forest conservators in each district would monitor the working of the control rooms. Even such activities as disposing off carcasses, skinning animals or felling trees can be reported.

The Centre has given 155314 as the fast access code for Maharashtra. The necessary permissions to operationalise 33 separate control rooms for this project were given on May 15 this year.

Meanwhile, Pachpute said that of the 33, five control rooms are ready at Amravati, Buldhana, Paratwada, Gadchiroli and Chandrapur. "The project is fast nearing completion," he assured.

No word on Atram arrest
Interestingly, while explaining to the House that the Chinkara poaching incident of June 14, 2008 was 'still under investigation', Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute avoided mentioning the Dharmarao Atram angle to the case.
Responding to questions about the action to be taken against those involved in the killing at Chaudharwadi, Pachpute replied, "Four persons have been arrested, and the statements of 23 witnesses have been recorded. We have recovered rifles, pistols and the vehicles used in the hunt."

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