Sumitra Mahajan’s son nominated to wildlife panel, activists upset

  • Ashutosh Shukla, Hindustan Times, Bhopal
  • Updated: Aug 18, 2014 16:28 IST

Wildlife activists of Madhya Pradesh have erupted in indignation after the pilot son of Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan was recommended for inclusion as a member in the MP State Wildlife Advisory Board.

Information acquired under the RTI Act showed that Mahajan's son Mandar was recommended for the board by transport minister Bhupendra Singh and chief conservator of forest (CCF), Indore RR Okhandiyar.

Mandar, 43, is the chief pilot at the Indore Flying Club.

Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, who obtained the papers through RTI, threatened to move high court if the state government did not withdraw the recommendation.

The chief minister heads the board which has 10 members. Its term is for five years.

Sumitra Mahajan is an MP from Indore.

Mandar, however, dismissed the apprehension of the activists saying he had a "passion for wildlife".

"I have the passion for wildlife but I work silently and keep to myself what I do. I don't make a show of it. Even if I have not done much, I can prove what I am capable of doing once I get this assignment," he told HT.

However, Dubey was not impressed.

"At a time when forest cover is diminishing in the state and it has already lost the status of tiger state, nomination of such people in the wildlife advisory board would reduce it to a NOC giving agency," said Dubey.

Wildlife expert and former member of the board Raghu Chundawat too said that "persons nominated to the board should be those who are in a position to advice on issues concerning wildlife".

In fact, papers obtained through RTI show that Mandar Mahajan had applied for appointment as honorary wildlife warden in Indore.

On receiving his application, Okhandiyar forwarded a proposal to chief wildlife warden recommending his name for the wildlife advisory board.

So much so that, Okhandiyar even enclosed a character certificate by the police and recommendation of the minister with his letter to the chief wildlife warden.

In the brief presented with his application, Mandar described himself as "a pilot who is a fanatical wildlife enthusiast, who has been associated with WWF in the past".

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