Minister’s midnight visit to tiger reserve | india | Hindustan Times
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Minister’s midnight visit to tiger reserve

Wildlife activists have criticized Maharashtra Finance Minister Jayant Patil for illegally entering the Tadoba National Park after midnight, even after forest officials apprised him of the rules, reports Pradip Kumar Maitra.

india Updated: Dec 07, 2007 01:08 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra

Wildlife activists have criticized Maharashtra Finance Minister Jayant Patil for illegally entering the Tadoba National Park after midnight, even after forest officials apprised him of the rules.

The tiger reserve permits visitors only between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays except Tuesday. Patil, along with principal secretary (reforms) Sunil Soni and some friends, reportedly forced their way into the park early on Wednesday.

“Barring the forest patrol, nobody can enter the reserve before sunrise and after sunset. Even after repeated requests from forest officials, Patil and company entered the park,” said a forest department official on condition of anonymity.

SH Patil, field director of Tadoba, admitted the minister had been to the reserve after midnight. But he added: “He was attending meetings in Gondia and Bhandara and reached Chandrapur late. However, he did not move around the park at night.”

“The minister is part of the government and he was given permission to take rest inside the premises. He also discussed several issues related to the park,” the forest officer added.

Jayant Patil justified his visit, saying he was there for a meeting with forest officials. “The project requires funding and park officials approached me in this regard. My office subsequently fixed a meeting in Tadoba on December 4 at 6 p.m. However, I could not reach there in time as I had to attend a meeting at Gondia,” he said.

“If ministers violate rules, how could anyone expect the common man to abide by the law,” tiger conservationist Kishore Rithe said.