Forensic test of vehicle sought for causing tigress’s death

Bhopal, May 28 (IANS) Activists have demanded a forensic investigation into the vehicle of Umaria district panchayat chief executive officer Akshay Kumar Singh for the hit-and-run death of a tigress in the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh last week, officials said.

During the probe it was found that the panchayat CEO was at Tala range in the park the day the incident took place and had also gone inside the park. Records at the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation-run hotel were also checked by senior forest officials to ascertain the CEO’s presence.

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has sought a report from the Madhya Pradesh government on the death of the tigress May 19 allegedly because she was hit by a vehicle, activists say.

‘The minister called me up Thursday after receiving my complaint regarding the death of the tigress and not only asked me to meet him in Delhi but also told me that he had written to the Madhya Pradesh chief minister on the issue,’ Shehla Masood, secretary of voluntary organisation Udai, told IANS.

‘The head of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Rajesh Gopal, also called me and discussed the matter,’ Masood said.

Alleging that the tigress was ‘murdered’, the activist has also demanded immediate closure of the park, forensic examination of the vehicles that entered the park on the day when the tigress was killed, and the setting up of a monitoring cell to take care of the three cubs that have been orphaned by the death of the tigress. Masood has also demanded the cancellation of permits of tourist lodge operators who are under suspicion.

According to Masood, forest officials were trying to hush up the matter as the incident occurred in the core area of Bandhavgarh, which is a well protected and guarded national park.