2 years on, CID clueless on Bandipur fire

2 years on, CID clueless on Bandipur fire

Flames rise after a forest fire at Bandipur Tiger Reserve, in Bandipur, Saturday, Feb 23, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Two years after a massive forest fire destroyed over 1,000 hectares of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Kappatagudda in Gadag district, officials are still groping in the dark about the cause of the blaze. The CID, which took over the case after a delay of three months, is yet to submit any report.

On February 18, 2017, a high-intensity fire had raged through the Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Kappatagudda. A forest guard was also killed while trying to douse the fire.

Senior CID officials said there were several theories about the possible cause of the fire, but they didn’t have evidence to support them as the case was handed over to them three months after the incident. Initial probe revealed it was a man-made disaster. Some suspected that miscreants who were partying in the area caused the fire, while others said locals and tribals, who had some issues with the forest department over employment opportunities, were behind the incident.

The then chief minister Siddaramaiah had pulled up forest officials for not visiting the spot and taking up the investigation. He handed over the case to the CID’s Special Enquiry cell months later.

“It was a forest fire. What can the CID do after a gap of three months? There was no evidence on the ground. If the case was handed over to us immediately, we could have traced some evidence that would have led us to the culprits,” CID officials said.