GUWAHATI, Jan 30 � The new Forest Minister of Assam, Atowa Munda has sought the cooperation and suggestions from all sections of people of the State to prevent poaching of rhinos. He also assured that he would personally verify the forest encroachments on the ground.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Munda admitted that poaching of rhinos is a major cause of concern and making all out efforts to protect the rhinos would be his top priority. He admitted that the Forest Minister or for that matter the Forest Department cannot alone prevent killing of rhinos and all sections of people of the State must come forward to help the government in this regard. He said that over the years, the Forest Department had made efforts to prevent poaching, but �we feel that the others should also be involved to help the government�.
Munda said that he has convened a meeting with the senior officials of the Forest Department to discuss steps needed to protect rhinos. The meeting will also discuss whether there are any shortcomings in the efforts in this regard. The Minister said that, he, soon after the meeting, would visit the Kaziranga National Park along with senior officers of the department to hold discussions with the people living near the Park, headmen of the villages, non-governmental organisations working in environment and forest protection and others to seek their suggestions on the steps to be taken to protect rhinos.
The Forest Minister admitted that encroachment of the forests is also a major problem for the State and there is need for paying attention to the problem. He said that after going through the official records, he would go for field visits to verify whether the forests, which exist on papers, really exist on the ground or not. He said that he would also seek help from the Home and Revenue departments to protect the forests of the State.