Special force for protection of tigers in Simlipal

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Baripada, Sep 30 (UNI) A Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) for the protection of the majestic great cat, its prey animals and its habitat will be launched soon in Simlipal Tiger Reserve(STR), encompassing a total of 2750 sq km of reserved area.

The Union Ministry for Environment and Forests (MOEF) has approved an action plan which envisaged the deployment of one Company of STPF, comprising 112 personnel headed by an Assistant Commandant in the rank of an Assistant Superintendent of Police, sources said.

STR sources said the Assistant Commandant will work under the overall control and supervision of the Field Director of the Simlipal Tiger Reserve. The command/control operation will be co-ordinated by the Field Director, the ASP in-charge of the STPF with the Superintendent of Police, Mayurbhanj.

STR Field Director-cum-Conservator of Forests, Baripada Circle, R Nagaraja Reddy said it will not be an armed force of the Government of India but will be organised in the model of the Indian Reserve Battalion(IRB).

The Company of the STPF will be divided into three platoons, each one placed under a Sub-Inspector of Police assisted by six havaldars and 30 constables.

Each platoon will be stationed at vulnerable entry points of the reserve at Podadiha, Thakurmunda and Bangriposi situated on the outer boundary of the STR, Mr Reddy said.

The STPF personnel will be recruited from among the residents of Mayurbhanj district by the Police departments of Orissa as per the norms and practice followed for recruitment of their own battalion, he added.

One of the most important feature of the STPF, is the special training that the personnel will receive from the Police department of Orissa as well as from the Central para-military forces based on a special syllabus for skill development, combating poaching and enabling intelligence-based enforcement in a forest terrain.

During emergency situation, the MOEF of the Union Government could transfer the STPF Company from Simlipal to another using the first right of call.

The Centre, sources said, has the full authority to ask the Orissa government to make the company available for deployment in the Satkosia Tiger Reserve and other tiger reserves likely to come up in the future in Orissa.

They may also be deployed in sensitive inter-state borders or in the nearby state for tiger protection. The Ministry of Forest and Environment had clearly stipulated a condition that under no circumstances the STPF personnel will be utilised in the aid of the Civil authorities.

The initial funding support for raising the STPF will be provided by the National Tiger Conservation Authority(NATCA), sources said.

The total expenditure for raising the Special Tiger Protection Force in Simlipal will cost Rs 3.29 crores.

UNI XC-DP KK AE KP1832

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