Bhopal: A three-member probe committee of state forest department has held the ‘unauthorised’ tour of a senior IFS officer to Pench National Park responsible for the death of a tigress and two cubs at the Park on March 28, 2016.
The probe into the deaths was ordered by the PCCF (wildlife) a day later on March 29. The report was submitted to the PCCF by APCCF (wildlife) on August 2 last year.
The report said Vinay Barman, CEO, MP Eco-tourism Development Board had been visiting the Park without taking permission from the PCCF. “As the field staffers of the Park were busy with the work on tiger safari with Burman for 13 days in that period, they could not pay attention to tiger conservation work and that led to the deaths.” It goes on to say that, “Burman’s tours were adversely impacting the conservation of tigers.”
Barman, who is now MD of MP Seeds Corporation, is aghast. “It is amusing and shocking that instead of fixing the responsibility of the staff posted in the Park, they are blaming me for the incident, when I had reached the Park only on the night of March 27. And the next day the tigress and the cubs were found dead,” he said.
The team comprised APCCF RP Singh, director Pench Tiger Reserve Seoni Subhranjan Sen and state in-charge, tiger strike force Ritesh Sirothia.
The Park officials were careless and not inspecting the area properly. As the work of tiger safari was going on in the reserve forest, his work was to monitor the work, because the director of the reserve Subhranjan Sen had refused to monitor the work on the basis of their ‘Non Technical Expert’ in handling safari work. The officers, workers and many others had reported to him that the forest guards and officers were not conducting the inspections according to protocol, Barman alleged.
“Interestingly I had reached on the night of 27 and the next day a tourist spotted the deaths, not the forest guard or others and I was staying very far from the crime scene and still the officers reported that I am one of the responsible.”
He alleged a nexus was operating in the reserve area. The place where the deaths occurred was very near to the resorts. The resorts were serving meat of cheetal and others to the visitors and to kill the cheetal the tiger family died.
He also alleged the norms set by National Tiger Conservation Authority, were also violated, as under the norms at least one member in the investigation team should be a non forest officer.