Statesman News Service BHUBANESWAR, Feb. 20.
As many as 379 wild animals have been illegally killed in the state during the last 5 years, chief minister, Mr Naveen Patnaik admitted in the state assembly today. Responding to a question posed by BJP member, Mr Pratap Chandra Sarangi, the chief minister said 612 persons had been arrested for these offences and 298 cases booked. 216 prosecution cases had been launched in different criminal courts which are under trial.
He informed the House that there were 192 tigers, 487 leopards, 1841 elephants, 901 black bucks, 130 Irawadi dolphins, 6.80 lakh water fowls, 1462 salt water crocodiles, 152 muggers and 3.23 Olive Ridley sea turtles in the state as per different estimates. Sharing the concern of members over the fast depletion of forest resources, he said several administrative measures had been taken to check it. Prominent measures included reorganization of Forest department, formation of about 9,600 Vana Samrakshana Samitis to protect 8,628 sq km forests through peoples’ participation, establishment of 265 forest check gates at strategic places of national highways/state highways/other roads, supply of 408 guns and 108 revolvers to field staff.
The other major steps were installation of 823 VHF sets in different areas of forest divisions, formation of circle and divisional mobile squads, sanction of 19 Armed Police Reserve force units to help the field staff in protection of forests and strengthening of fire protection measures by providing financial incentive to Vana Samrakshana Samities to prevent and control outbreak of fire in the forest. Mr Patnaik said there are 1982 blocks of reserved forests in the state and 18 wildlife sanctuaries, covering an area of 7,618 sq km.