Whistleblower officer to probe leopard poaching case in Rajaji Tiger Reserve
Uttarakhand’s head of forest force on Wednesday appointed whistleblower IFS officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi in-charge of a leopard poaching incident in Rajaji Tiger ReserveUpdated: May 02, 2018 22:01 IST
Uttarakhand’s head of forest force (HoFF) on Wednesday appointed whistleblower IFS officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi in-charge of a leopard poaching incident in Rajaji Tiger Reserve.
He was also asked to probe a fund scam in the reserve. Chaturvedi earlier exposed financial bungling worth ₹5.6 crore in Champawat forest division.
The leopard poaching incident was reported in the core area of the reserve on March 22. Following which the local ranger did an investigation. On April 25, chief wildlife warden DVS Khati demanded a SIT probe into the matter.
“I have put him in-charge of the (poaching) investigation,” HoFF Jai Raj said.
Besides, The HoFF had received a complaint from activists Dinesh Pandey and Rajeev Mehta about the irregularities in funds at the reserve.
The complaint was made on how the management spent funds on paper for lantana eradication, putting signboards and making water holes for wildlife, but nothing has been done on ground.
Meanwhile, cash payment to labourers for various works, discrepancies in funding contractor for providing food to staff on long range patrolling and others were also highlighted.
The whistleblower IFS officer is also asked to expose the scam, if any. Chaturvedi is known for his zero-tolerance towards corruption.
“He is the best person to expose such scams to which no one pays attention,” a senior forest officer said requesting anonymity.
One of the activists, Rajeev Mehta, who runs NGO Operation Eye of the Tiger and was a former wildlife warden, was banned by Khati.
However, the HoFF has written a letter to the state government terming the decision as ‘vendetta’ against him as he has approached the high court on an incident of five tiger skin seizure in 2016 against Khati.
The letter stated that the chief wildlife warden was in no capacity to ban Mehta without any prior notice.
Khati has mentioned that Mehta had failed to submit works done for worth ₹1.3 crore.
The HoFF has demanded strict action and immediate suspension of Khati for banning Mehta from entering protected area.
In his reaction, Khati said: “The NGO was banned because it was involved in money laundering.”