GUWAHATI, Oct 19 – Aimed at controlling wildlife crime, the President of India Pratibha Singh Patil has given the assent to amendments in the Wildlife Protection Act exclusively for Assam.
State Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain informed this during a press conference today, exuding confidence that the amendments would make life tougher for the poachers in the State.
Hussain, while informing that all the wildlife offences henceforth would be of non-bailable nature, stated that while the offence that earlier involved imprisonment between three to seven years, at the plea of the State Government, has now been increased to seven to 10 years and the fine too has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.
“Similarly, a person convicted twice unlike before where he or she had to undergo an imprisonment from three to seven years, would now be subjected to at least ten years imprisonment or lifetime imprisonment. The fine amount too has been increased from Rs 25,000 to Rs 75, 000,” the Minister stated.
He further informed that all the wildlife cases from now onwards would not be entertained by the lower court and instead all such cases would be heard in the Court of District and Sessions Judge.
The Minister further, said, “the uniformed forest guards would also enjoy an open hand as steps has been taken to ensure that they are not subjected to unwanted hassles from the police department.”
The Minister further divulged that the process to include another 430 square kilometers(approx) of area in the Kazaringa National Park has already started, of which 43.79 sq kms has already been handed over to the KNP by the Revenue department in the first edition. The KNP at present is spread over an area of 430 sq kms.
Meanwhile, the department has constituted a one-man committee under CCF Wildlife to probe into the death of elephants in the Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Kaziranga.
“We have also filed as case against the Difolu tea Garden as prime facie enquiry by the Divisional Forest Officer has indicated that the elephants died after consuming pesticides, We are also awaiting forensic report after which necessary action would betaken against the guilty,” Hussain stated.
“I have also urged the concerned owners of the tea gardens to go for organic plantation,” he pointed out.