NGO alleges forest dept fund swindling

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Tezpur (Assam), Feb 22 (PTI) An NGO today alleged thatAssam forest department had misappropriated a large amount ofmoney meant for protection of wildlife in the Sonai-Rupai gamesanctuary in central Assam''s Udalguri and Sonitpur districtsand demanded a CBI probe into it.

The department has swindled a large amount of moneymeant for joint forest management committee to protect thesanctuary from encroachers, upgrade forest villages and plantmedicinal saplings, Dr Hori Charan Das, secretary general ofAranya Suraksha Samiti, alleged.

The forest department has taken up the project toprotect the sanctuary covering an area of 220 sq km fromBelsiri to Pasnoi as it had become unsafe for wild animals asmost of the area were encroached by villagers.

Although the forest department had taken initiative byforming the joint forest management committee and plantmedicinal plants way back in 2003 nothing has been done sofar, Das alleged.

"Encroachment has been going on and a weekly markethas been set up inside the sanctuary with the forestdepartment authorities turning a blind eye to the problem," hesaid.

The NGO plans to approach the court to protect thegame sanctuary and its animals.

When contacted, forest department sources denied thatfunds have been misappropriated and assured that problems ofthe game sanctuary will be adequately tackled.

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