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RTI activist takes KNP authority to task

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Nov 1 - RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury has alleged that the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve Authority has not complied with Section 50 (8) of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972.

In a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife � WL) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Assam, Choudhury said the way in which the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve Authority has been shirking away from its duties has also been highlighted in para 10.8.4 of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report (no.3 of 2014), which reveals that instead of investigating the cases of wildlife crimes, the authorities have been merely filing FIRs in the nearest police station; and, as the police department cannot give much focus on wildlife crimes, the outcome is extremely poor.

He also referred to the Rhino Task Force Report- 2015, which has stated, among others, - �8.1. (c) (3) Kaziranga Park should investigate all the crimes related to rhinos and other wildlife and contest the cases in court of law to the logical end of conviction of criminals. They should not leave the matter to the police department.

�8.1. (c) (4) There are many cases of rhino-related crime pending in different courts. There is urgent need to take stock of such cases and find out the reasons for delay. Simultaneously, critical analysis of the non-conviction or poor conviction needs to be made,� said the Rhino Task Force.

In his letter to the Chief Wildlife Warden, Chouhdury said he strongly believed that the very foundation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 cannot be achieved unless the Forest Department establishes a cogent and an effective system that can be used in the field to ensure timely, effective and scientific investigation of the various wildlife crimes against rhinos in Assam. Moreover, based on the lack of data available with the regulatory authorities, it has become all the more important that a database is maintained containing information regarding all the crimes and the investigation conducted.

The Section 50 (8) of the 1972 WPA has stated � �Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, any officer not below the rank of an Assistant Director of Wild Life Preservation or an officer not below the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forests authorized by the State Government in this behalf shall have the powers, for the purpose of making investigation into any offence against any provision of this Act - (a) to issue a search warrant; (b) to enforce the attendance of witness; (c) to compel the discovery and production of documents and material objects; and (d) to receive and record evidence.

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