JORHAT, Nov 29 - AICC secretary and former two-time Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami today demanded a CBI probe into over 500 deaths of rhinos in the State in the past four years.
Addressing newspersons at the Jorhat District unit Congress office, Goswami, also a former State Parliamentary Secretary for Home Department, said that as per data received by wildlife activist Ranjan Kumar Medhi recently by filing RTI application to the Forest Department, about 564 rhinos have died in the past four years.
Quoting Medhi, Goswami said that as such a large number of one-horn rhinos, an endangered animal, have died, mostly in Kaziranga National Park and also in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary and Manas National Park, the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government should recommend a CBI probe to find out the causes of death of the rhinos.
Stating that if there was nothing to hide then the Government should maintain transparency and recommend a CBI inquiry to find out the exact causes of death, be it due to natural or unnatural causes.
He also demanded that the State Government should publish a White Paper on the matter stating the cause of deaths of the rhinos as people should know the facts. He sought that the Forest Department make public the total number of rhinos in the wild habitats of Assam at the earliest.
Stating that both CBI probe and publishing a White Paper was likely to present the �real picture�, Goswami said that he felt the Government was keeping the figure of rhino deaths under the wraps.
The AICC secretary while recollecting that the BJP before coming to power, had made rhino deaths, mainly due to poaching during previous Congress Government�s rule a big poll issue, now should come clean on the matter.
Slamming the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government�s decision to contribute Rs 30 crore towards hosting the 65th Filmfare Awards in Guwahati in February next year, Goswami said that the amount to be spent on the awards function could have been used to reopen the paper mills in Cachar and in Morigaon (Jagiroad).
�Employees and their families of the mills are spending days in penury as they were out of jobs and salaries pending for a long period of time. BJP which promised to revive the mills has now forgotten the plight of the workers,� Goswami alleged.
Goswami also flayed the recent tour abroad by ATDC Chairman in the name of promoting Assam tourism at the cost of taxpayers� money. He observed that such kind of visits to foreign nations by officials incurring huge expenses of Government money was not going to contribute in tourism promotion. Making former Miss Universe Priyanka Chopra as a brand ambassador of Assam Tourism by spending Rs 2.3 crore was also a �flop show�, he opined.