Frequent transfers of officers, the UT forest department’s treatment of ducks and a lament by the UT administrator that he had been a victim of paid news was the highlight of the first day of the Regional Editors’ Conference held in the city on Monday.
Of six Central ministries participating, three ministers chaired meetings and met editors on Monday.
The rest of the three ministers will interact with the media on Tuesday.
At the session with the minister of women and child development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, last month’s alleged disappearance of 15 ducklings from the Nepli forest took centre-stage.
In response to a query on the issue, Maneka said, “If the forest department starts eating ducks, who will save them.”
On September 15, activists of the People For Animals (PFA) had rescued 15 ducklings. On September 20, the organisation, which the minister chairs, alleged that the birds that are valued in the international market in lakhs of rupees had gone missing.
Maneka had then taken up the issue with UT administrator VP Singh Bandore. She had also sought action against chief conservator of forests Chandigarh, Santosh Kumar, who had allegedly misbehaved with her when she had called him up. Kumar is also the UT environment director.
Without naming anyone, Maneka told the media, “Responsibility should be fixed. The official responsible for the disappearance of the ducklings should be suspended and jailed for not following rules laid down by the forest and wildlife department.”
She visited the Punjab Raj Bhawan and met UT administrator VP Singh Badnore. She again sought action against erring officials. After the September 20 complaint, the UT forest and wildlife department had released pictures of the ducklings clicked on September 21 to prove that the ducklings were safe.
The department had also written to the UT Police to investigate the matter. A case was registered against two unidentified people.