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Monday, May 21, 2012

Heads start rolling, Tadoba field director shifted

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | May 20, 2012, 04.20AM IST NAGPUR: A day after the shocking discovery of a poached tiger that had been cut into 10 pieces, heads have started rolling. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) field director VK Sinha has been shifted with immediate effect. Moreover, on the direction of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the entire control of tiger reserve buffer zone has now been handed to the field director. Both, the transfer and unified control notifications were issued by the state government on Saturday evening. Sinha, who is yet to complete his full tenure of three years as field director, will be replaced by 45-year-old Virendra Tiwari who has a reputation of being an energetic and no-nonsense officer. Tiwari was chief conservator of forests (CCF) with budget, planning and management department at Van Bhavan in the city. Sinha was not available for comments. Interestingly, Chandrapur deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) P Kalyan Kumar has been spared in the reshuffle. The state's principal secretary (forests) Praveen Pardeshi said, "We are running short of DyCFs and any further changes will have to be done carefully. Sinha was shifted as he is good at joint forest management (JFM) and budgetary planning." Pardeshi added, "One of the reasons to shift Sinha is that we want new and young leadership. We are doing lot of soul-searching and results will be seen soon." The secretary informed that TATR will now have two deputy conservators. With the unified control notification, Chandrapur DyCF will work for TATR (buffer) while Chaprala (Gadchiroli) wildlife sanctuary will look after TATR (Core). Besides, the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) will be in place in Tadoba in 15 days. The STPF in Pench will take some time," he said. On a special investigation team (SIT), Pardeshi said, "We first want the CID to take over the probe." Head of forest force (HoFF) AK Joshi said Tiwari will assume charge on Monday. Saying that there are various reasons for Sinha's transfer, Joshi admitted that poaching in the buffer zone of Tadoba was one of them. "Sinha took good initiatives and the transfer is not a reflection on his governance," said Joshi. The ambiguity over unified control of TATR buffer has come to an end with the notification that henceforth the TATR field director will be in full control. TOI had frequently raised the issue that overlapping administrative control was a deterrent in tiger protection and its conservation. The government had notified TATR buffer zone on May 5, 2010. It includes 558.81 sq km reserve forest (RF), 113.04 sq km protected forest (PF), and 401.49 sq km other area. Of the 1103.34 sq km combined area, 901.66 sq km belongs to Chandrapur division, 125.51 sq km on lease with Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) and 76.17 sq km area with Brahmapuri division. Chandrapur's around 60% area is under buffer. The new notification says that now all the ongoing forestry works in this area will continue under the field director's control. The HoFF has been entrusted with the task of reorganizing the territorial area apart from buffer. The amended Wildlife (Protection) Act 2006, mentions that existing land uses in the buffer zone can continue with due mainstreaming of wildlife concerns and wildlife protection would be an overlapping mandate for the entire area. Till now, the staff with Chandrapur forest division was working under the TATR field director but area other than buffer was with CCF of Chandrapur. Besides, administrative and joint wildlife management of Chimur forest range under the Chandrapur and Brahmapuri divisions, was handed over to the field director. The hand over, along with employees was to be confined to buffer zone only. The technical control of deputy conservators of forests (DyCFs) of Brahmapuri and Chandrapur regarding works related to saw mills, nistar rights, minor forest produce (MFP), tendu, Forest Conservation Act (FCA) issues, etc was not with the field director. But now it will be with him. Taking poaching head on * Field director of TATR V K Sinha shifted * Young IFS officer Virendra Tiwari brought in * Unified control given to TATR field director * STPF for Tadoba to be place in 15 days * Tadoba to have two deputy conservators * Chaprala (Gadchiroli) & Chandrapur DyCFs brought under TATR field director * SIT to probe poaching cases likely

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