Wildlife Board members seek use of private vehicles in protected areas

Seven members write to govt quoting Sec 27(a) of Wildlife Act

Seven members of Karnataka State Board for Wildlife have sought permission from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Karnataka forest department to drive their private vehicles inside the forest areas and even to core areas.

The letter, dated October 6, 2017, a copy of which is with DH, is signed by Dr Shivaprakash N C, Dr H V Santhrupth, Rana George (son of Bengaluru Development Minister K J George), K Shyam Raju, Ramachandra Shetty, G Malleshappa and Dr Madegowda C.

The signatories have quoted Section 27(a) of Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) stating that it provides members entry into forest areas including core areas. “Being members under Act, may be permitted to use their own vehicles (jeep) to enter protected areas after intimating the registration number of the vehicle to chief wildlife warden. This provision would reduce the pressure on authorities to provide vehicles to the government-nominated members to the state board for wildlife (sic).”

The letter has increased the worry of forest officials. Who will shoulder the responsibility for their acts, the Forest officials question.

Earlier, former chief wildlife warden (CWW) had issued temporary permission to the vehicles of a few Board members. But this was soon withdrawn after the number of vehicles and untoward incidents in the protected areas increased. However, no permission was given for entry to core areas.

A senior Forest officer on the condition of anonymity, told DH, “The letter quotes sections under which the Board members can use their vehicles, but the provisions state that entry is for official work only and not for recreation. The Act also states that Chief wildlife warden (CWW) or forest officials concerned have the right to stop vehicles and refuse permission.  Rana George had recently visited Bhadra Tiger Reserve with his friends, in his private vehicle, without permission. T M Chubru, another Board member, also uses his vehicle inside forest areas without permission. Two forest cases - of timber felling and brewing illicit liquor have been filed against him,” the forest officer added.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), wildlife, Punati Sridhar, said such acts can lead to problems. “Earlier, permission was issued to the members but we noticed some untoward incidents like people getting down from their vehicles and even chasing elephants in their private jeeps. So it was stopped. There is no need for people to use their private vehicles, if CWW or officials concerned are informed in advance, vehicles and guards will be arranged,” he said.

C Jayaram, Additional PCCF and CWW, who has also been marked on the letter, said that he had not yet received the letter copy. He, however, assured to look into the matter immediately.

DH News Service

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