Battalion of tiger protection force
By Express News Service
05 Apr 2009 10:06:00 AM IST
BHUBANESWAR: As the security forces moved into Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) to regain the ground lost to Left Wing Extremists (LWEs) after three successive attacks, the State Government on Saturday decided to approach National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for raising of the protection force meant exclusively for the large cats habitat.
The Centre had announced creation of tiger protection force in the last budget.
‘‘The Orissa Government has decided to seek creation of a full battalion for Similipal and a proposal in this regard will be tabled soon before NTCA which is seized of the current situation and ready to give it a go ahead,’’ sources said.
To be raised by the State Police, the battalion will remain under control of the Field Director, STR. The protection force may take long before it becomes a reality but that only can offer permanent solution since deployment of the security forces is neither a long-term measure nor is advisable for a wildlife protected area.
Currently, it has to make do with a Special Operation Group (SOG) unit and a strike force which are combing through the forests from Gudgudia and Na’na areas. It has been decided that the SOG unit will remain deployed till the month-end while another group would join after the first phase election is over.
The Sate Government took stock of the situation in a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Ajit Kumar Tripathy. Director-General of Police MM Praharaj, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests SC Mohanty and Chief Wildlife Warden BK Patnaik attended the meeting.
Sources said the attacks could be an attempt to divert attention from south and central Orissa where the security forces are in concentration due to the elections. There are possibilities that radicals want to create a corridor through the tiger reserve.
Since they already have presence at Harichandanpur in Keonjhar, sanitising Similipal would give them access to a total corridor of passage.
With the security forces, forest field staff who had vacated their positions after the attacks too have started returning to work.