By Sushanta Talukdar
"The state government alone cannot solve this problem and the Centre must extend cooperation," says the Assam Chief Minister
Assam Governor Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya on Monday urged the Tarun Gogoiled Congress government in the state to engage “another agency” to curb rhino poaching in Kaziranga National Park if the present mechanism failed to curb it. His remarks came after his address in the budget session of the Assam Assembly that “firm steps to protect wildlife have been taken by the Government” and “the overall population of rhinoceros has increased to 2,544 in the year 2013 from 2,201 in the year 2009.”
“If they cannot stop rhino poaching then we should get another agency. I am very much concerned about rhinos. It is a very important symbolic thing. A small group of criminals are challenging the government. How can you tolerate this?” said the Governor while speaking to journalists after his address in the House was cut short with the entire opposition members disrupted his address by shouting that the State Government has miserably failed on all fronts.
The development came after the Governor summoned Assam Environment and Forest Minister Atuwa Munda and Director of Kaziranga National Park M.K. Yadava over unabated poaching of rhinos in the national park. However, Mr Munda was away in Nagaon while Mr Yadava called on the Governor and apprised him of the antipoaching measures taken by the park authorities.
“I wanted to know what is lacking. The director came and briefed me about the situation. If he is not in a position to prevent killings, then he should quit gracefully. We will appoint another agency,” the Governor told journalists after his meeting with the KNP director. Earlier on January 7 also gave instructions to change the whole set up of security personnel of Kaziranga without any delay, if required. He also urged the then Assam Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain to “do justice to his Ministry and discharge his responsibilities to the state and its people and resources, carefully, sincerely and judiciously.”
In an indirect reference to the Governor, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi reacted sharply on Sunday saying that everyone has to function within the constitutional limit. Mr. Gogoi also insisted that the Centre’s cooperation is a must to curb the menace.
The Chief Minister said that his government was equally serious about protecting the rhinos. “We are also highly concerned. Mr Javadekar (Union Environment and Forest Minister) had come and made lot of assurances. But nothing has happened after that. The poachers are from outside the states.
Besides, the poachers have links with extremists outside the state. "The state government alone cannot solve this problem and the Centre must extend cooperation,” added Mr. Gogoi while journalists sought his reaction.
Earlier in his address the Governor stated: “Modern arms and equipment have been provided to counter the poachers. Antipoaching task force has been set up and measures to protect wildlife are continuing. While more efforts shall be made to prevent poaching and killing of wild animals, it is noteworthy that overall population of rhinoceros has increased to 2,544 in the year 2013 from 2,201 in the year 2009. Tiger population has increased from 143 in 2010 to 167 in 2014. Under Indian Rhino Vision 2020 recently Government has planned to translocate rhinos in Burachapori and Laokhowa sanctuaries.”