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Monday, October 15, 2012

Madhya Pradesh yet to form tiger protection force

P Naveen, TNN Oct 14, 2012, 12.42AM IST BHOPAL: A Special Tiger Protection Force (SPTF), aimed at protecting the big cats from poachers, is yet to be constituted and deployed in Madhya Pradesh- the state that has lost it's tag of "Tiger State". A directive from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to the chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for constitution of SPTF and sanction of funds from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for the same, besides increased cases of poaching of big cats in the state have failed to stir the forest department. Notably, the decision to hand over the poaching of tigers in Panna reserve that wiped out the big cat population there is also being delayed by the department for almost 4 years. Ads by Google Bhopal Facts Get the facts on the Bhopal Tragedy. Let’s go in an Alto 800 The new Alto 800 is coming soon. Want to buy it? Book Now. A fresh report submitted by the NTCA (on efforts made for tiger conservation) before the Supreme Court judges hearing a PIL seeking 'ban on tourism in core areas' on September 26, says that Karnataka is the first state to have constituted the SPTF followed by Maharashtra. MP does not find a mention anywhere, said sources. When contacted state forest minister Sartaj Singh pleaded ignorance on the matter. "I will have to check with the officers," he told TOI. Not only the STPF, the state forest department has also been delaying the handing over of "Panna tiger reserve (PTR) poaching case" to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for long. The file for CBI inquiry is being shunted between home and forest department for the last four years. To avoid the much demanded CBI inquiry further, the forest department mooted a proposal of creating a three-member committee to investigate the PTR case. They also sought sanction from home department for including inspector general of police (IG) (Sagar), Pankaj Shrivastava, in the committee. But despite the sanction, the team is yet to be functional. Ajay Dubey- the petitioner - on whose petition the Supreme Court banned tourist activities in core areas of tiger reserves, says that he will file an application seeking directives for formation of SPTF during the next hearing on October 16. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved the creation of a SPTF in 2007 after it was revealed that the country's tiger population had fallen to less than half of its population reported in 2002. Later based on the tiger abundance and vulnerability, 13 Tiger Reserves in the country, including three from MP (Pench, Kanha and Bandhavgarh) were identified for raising, arming and deploying the STPF. Panna Tiger Reserve in MP has lost its entire tiger population to poaching by 2009. "A tiger has strayed out of the Bandhavgarh tiger reserve and is being spotted on two lane road between Dhamokar and Koadar jungle. I have inputs that a group of village youths are after it. The tiger could be in trouble if steps are not taken," says wildlife activist Rishi Bhatt insisting upon deployment of SPTF. We have already lost over two dozen big cats in the last one year, he pointed out. Poaching of tigers in Madhya Pradesh is in the focus once again with the killing of two tigers near the state capital recently and cases of poaching from different parts of the state.

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