Jairam shoots off missives to Naveen

CMs intervention sought for curbing helicopter movement over Satkosia tiger reserve in Orissa

Ramesh, in his letter to Praful Patel on Saturday, said he had received a complaint regarding a low-flying helicopter over the Satkosia tiger reserve.

“It is learnt that this has happened twice in the area in November 2009 and September 2010,” the letter said.

“As you are aware, such low flights over wildlife habitats amount to ‘hunting’ under the Wildlife (protection) Act, since it causes disturbance to wild animals,” said the letter.
“The state authorities have lodged a complaint with the Air Traffic Management Unit, Civil Aviation Department, Kolkata in this regard,” Ramesh wrote to Praful Patel.

“I would very much appreciate your intervention in the matter.

“An advisory from your end to all concerned for avoiding such low flights over protected areas would immensely help conservation,” the Union environment minister said.

Intervention

In a separate letter, Ramesh has also sought the intervention of Orissa Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik in the matter.

Ramesh wrote the letters after Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa, wrote to the union environment ministry about the alleged movement of helicopter over the Satkosia tiger reserve in 2009 and 2010.

News reports

Oriya daily “Sambad” reported earlier this month that Baijayant Panda, a Lok Sabha MP of the ruling BJD, representing the Kendrapara constituency, flew in a chopper at a low height over the tiger reserve. He allegedly did not take permission from the wildlife authorities.

Although the daily did not say when the incident took place, the news report said local residents and officials had seen the chopper fly over the reserve.

Panda’s political secretary J P Ghosh, however, refuted the allegation and said the MP always flew with proper permission from the air traffic control.

“He has never violated any rules,” Ghosh said, when asked about the news reports.
Satkosia is located over 964 sq km along a gorge off the Mahanadi river. It was declared a tiger reserve in 2007.

The reserve, spread over four districts of Orissa—Angul, Cuttack, Nayagarh and Boudh—is home to about 18 endangered Royal Bengal tigers and more than 300 elephants, according to state government figures.

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