Orissa probes if chopper flew over tiger reserve

Saturday, December 4, 2010

BHUBANESWAR - A probe has been ordered into the allegation that a Biju Janata Dal MP flew a chopper over Orissas Satkosia Tiger Reserve violating green laws, an official said Saturday.

Chief Wild Life Warden P.N. Padhi has asked his local officials to investigate and submit a report soon after a newspaper reported the alleged violation by Baijayant Panda, a Lok Sabha member of the Biju Janata Dal representing Kendrapara constituency.

Citing preliminary findings, Padhi said there was no chopper movement in the area at least during the past 10 days. I am waiting for the written report, he told IANS.

Oriya daily Sambad reported Friday that Panda, an industrialist-turned-politician, allegedly flew the chopper at a low height without taking permission from the wild life authority.

Although it did not mention when the incident took place, the newspaper report added that the local residents and officials witnessed the chopper fly over the tiger reserve.

The report said a young industrialist-cum-parliamentarian from Haryana was the co-pilot and gave photographs of the chopper.

The opposition Congress in the state has demanded an inquiry into the incident and sought action.

Pandas political secretary J.P. Ghosh refuted the allegation and said Panda always flew with proper permission from the air traffic control (ATC). “He has never violated any rules, he told IANS.

Biswajit Mohanty, secretary of the Wildlife Society of Orissa, said disturbances caused by low flying helicopters inside the reserve was not new.

It was illegal as per the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Mohanty said.

“I wrote a letter to the central ministry of environment and forests and to the National Tiger Conservation Authority,” he said.

Satkosia is located over an area of 964 square km along the gorge off the Mahanadi river. It was declared as a tiger reserve in 2007.

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

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