By Riyan Ramanath
BHUBANESWAR: To keep tabs on wildlife crimes and fire mishaps in forests and facilitate public to share information on them, the wildlife wing will launch a toll-free number soon.
After the state government asked the forest department to introduce the facility, the latter has sought a toll-free number from BSNL. A dedicated telephone will be installed at the office of chief wildlife warden.
"We are receiving information related to wildlife crimes through divisional forest officers. Acting on their information is time-consuming as it involves a lot of official procedures," said principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) S Srivastava.
Since the locals can directly connect with head office, immediate instruction can be given to the forest officials of the place of occurrence to swing into action, he added.
He said the number will be circulated among public through advertisements and other publicity modes.
"We plan to keep dedicated staff to take calls and inform appropriate authorities for action. Special squads, constituted to look into wildlife crimes, will be sent to the spot, if necessary," said the PCCF. He further said in case prior information (before the crime is committed) is received, the special squad would be asked to remain vigilant and foil the offence.
Last month, Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) authorities deployed two dog squads for investigating wildlife crimes. The STR also recently trained forest staff in tackling wildlife crimes, investigation and intelligence collection.
Regarding fire mishaps, the PCCF said village and reserve forests have been bearing the brunt of such outbreak. "Most fire mishaps take place because of reckless attitude of villagers and tourists. No one bothers to put out a fire," said a forest official. Awareness will also be created among public not to drop lit cigarette butts or match sticks in forest area, the officer added.