GUWAHATI, July 21 - Forest and Environment Minister Pramila Rani Brahma today stated that the Centre and the State are equally concerned about the recurring incidents of rhino poaching in the State, and that the possibility of a NIA probe is being explored.
The Minister also opined that a modern and concerted approach is what is needed to break the thriving international network.
Replying to a question raised by Congress legislator Ajanta Neog during Question Hour, Brahma said the government is laying utmost stress on the overhauling of the existing infrastructure to counter the nefarious designs of the poachers.
�As the stakes are in crores of rupees, the network too is very well-oiled and wide,� she said, adding that 239 rhinos have been poached in the State since 2001. The highest cases of poaching were reported in 2013 with 41 fatalities.
�With the existing infrastructure and facilities, a sense of lack of motivation has crept in, especially among the frontlines forest staff,� the Minister rued.
�A move is on to replace the outdated firearms with sophisticated ones. Besides, night vision cameras will also be provided to them for effective vigil. An improved housing facility with timely ration and pay will soon become a reality,� the Minister assured the House.
In response to a supplementary question by AGP MLA Padma Hazarika, the Forest Minister informed the House that the rhino horns stored in the State treasuries will be examined with the help of forensic experts and if needed, experts from outside will be consulted to ascertain the authenticity of the rhino horns.
�Findings and details of the committee will also be made public and the entire exercise will be video-graphed,� she added.
Man-elephant conflicts: A total of 176 persons had died between 2012-13 and 2014-15 as a result of man-elephant conflicts reported across the State.
A statement issued by Forest and Environment Minister Pramila Rani Brahma, in reply to a question by AGP legislator Padma Hazarika, stated that during the same period Rs 172.40 lakh were released as compensation to the next-of-kin of the deceased.
During the same period, 236 persons sustained injuries to whom an amount of Rs 22.032 lakh were released. As far as compensation for damaged houses and crops is concerned, an amount of Rs 121.29 lakh was released.