Guwahati, Mar 23 :The Centre will raise a rhino protection force in Assam by roping in youths of villages that surround the rhino habitats in the eastern state.
The decision comes amid an alarming spurt in the poaching of the animal, especially at Kaziranga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“For the establishment of the central protection force, the selection needs to be facilitated by the state government. The force will mainly consist of a motivated batch of youngsters from the surrounding villages and I am sure that in the next few days, a lot of youths will join the force,” Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar told reporters here on Saturday.
He was here to take part in a ‘chintan sibir’ (brainstorming camp) of his department, which was attended by delegates from 12 states.
“There in the field, we will have a special programme. Yesterday (Friday) I talked to Chief Minister (Tarun Gogoi) about the ‘chintan sibir’. Definitely, I will call the forest officers, especially those working in Kaziranga, to Delhi to work out the joint action,” Javadekar said.
The minister added that it’s not about a blame game. “Let’s also understand that about 100 years ago when we had started, rhinos were in extinct. The contributions made by all concerned over the years helped raise the number from 30 to 3,000. Last year there were 22 cases of poaching and 22 poachers were also killed. No country in the world is taking such tough actions but there are still loopholes,” Javadekar said.
He said that the Centre would amend the anti-poaching laws to be able to fight poachers more effectively.
In a memorandum submitted to Javadekar, Assam Forest Minister Atuwa Munda insisted on the modernisation of the department.
“The surrounding villages (of rhino habitats) have to be developed. We want the development of the areas through the joint forest management and the joint eco-management committees. We have submitted a memorandum to the minister seeking financial assistance for the purpose,” Munda stated.