RAIPUR: The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), in a supervisory report on Udanti-Sitanadi Tiger Reserve in Gariyaband district of Chhattisgarh, has charged personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) with hunting wild animals and using firewood from the reserve forest area.
The report, which was compiled in October 2018 by the NTCA, further said the CRPF practice of clearing forest area with fire for setting up camp had damaged the core area. It said, the authorities should look at alternative practices to camp.
A senior NTCA officer, not authorised to speak to the media, on condition of anonymity said, “The information compiled in our report are based on inputs gathered by field officials during our visit and have been taken on record. It is also shared with the state government for action”.
The report, however, does not mention about the wildlife or their numbers killed by the troopers and also lacks specific dates on which such information was received. “That may be checked if the relevant complaints were registered locally”, the NTCA officer said.
However, CRPF’s Chhattisgarh Sector headquarters in Raipur disagreed with the NTCA report.
“It’s an absolutely baseless accusation as CRPF never indulges in such activities. Why would we use firewood from reserve forest when every CRPF camp has to mandatorily use only cooking gas,” CRPF spokesperson Commandant B C Patra retorted.
CRPF battalions are deployed in Chhattisgarh where they are engaged in anti-Maoist operations in various districts affected by left-wing extremism. The Maoists have a presence in as many as 14 of the 27 districts of the state.
“We will look into the details of the NTCA inspection carried out in the Tiger Reserve and take appropriate action based on the veracity of the report and conformity to facts”, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest) C K Khaitan said.
The NTCA report further stated that forest clearances for diversion of forest land for establishment of CRPF camps are required to be verified.