Maharashtra, Centre form separate panels to probe tigress killing

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Mumbai, Nov 9 (IANS) Exactly a week after the controversial shooting of an alleged man-eater tigress Avni (T1), the Centre and state announced two separate expert committees to probe the incident, officials said on Friday.

While the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) set up its own committee, Maharashtra Minister of Forests Sudhir Mungantiwar ordered an inquiry through an independent committee to find out the facts on whether guidelines/ procedures given in SOP were followed.

The committee includes Principal Chief Conservator of Forests S.H. Patil as Chairman besides Bilal Habib representing the Wildlife Institute of India and Anish Andheria, the President, Wildlife Conservation Trust, as members. Another senior official, Nitin Kakodkar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF), will be the Convenor.

The Centre’s panel includes Hemant Kandi of NTCA, Nagpur as Convenor and O.P. Kaler, senior retired wildlife expert and Jose Louies deputy director, of Wildlife Trust of India as Members.

Avni’s killing late last Friday night, which left her two 11-month-old dependent cubs orphaned and untraced, sparked off a bitter nationwide row, involving animal lovers and politicians, farmers and activists.

It provoked a public spat between Union minister Maneka Gandhi and Mungantiwar after she virtually accused him of ‘murder’ and demanded his sacking from the state cabinet.

Earlier this week, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis attempted to mollify Maneka by announcing a probe into “possible procedural lapses” in the tigress’ killing by a professional marksman from Hyderabad.

All important parties including ruling ally Shiv Sena, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena attacked the government for allegedly clearing out the forests of wildlife to help big industrialists wanting to set up base in Yavatmal and surroundings.

The matter was brought to the notice of the PMO seeking a NIA probe while other activists plan to move the Supreme Court soon in the matter.



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