Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No check on visitors in Gir national

Entry pass now on a plain paper, which doesn’t even have a counterfoil


No check on visitors in Gir national

Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik


Sasan: All the access controls into Gir National Park, which were introduced as a knee jerk reaction to the poaching incidents last year, have been thrown to the wind.
Eight Asiatic lions were killed by poachers in the Gir forest last summer, after which the forest department carried out a series of measures to check entry points into Gir.
   But now, no record of the tourists or visitors to Gir is maintained. The guards at the checkposts write the name of the driver of the tourist vehicle and its licence plate with the number of passengers on a plain slip of paper which doesn’t even have a
   The forest department had, after the poaching incident in March and April last year, directed the beat guards at the check posts to screen vehicles and also note the licence number of the driver entering the forest.
   However, one year after the incidents, the beat guards are back to their old habits. The guards don’t bother using the official vehicle entry passes issued by the forest department which has a counterfoil for the records. At the Visavadar check post, this correspondent found the beat guard on duty issuing handwritten slips without even keeping a carbon copy.
According to officials, following the poaching incident, the forest department had issued directions that the person at the check post had to do a physical verification of the car and even jot down the number of the photo identity card or licence number of any one person travelling inside the vehicle.
   However, when the correspondent asked a beat guard about these loopholes, he said, “There is only one person at the check post and he has to take down details in his register, issue the passes. If he gets down to checking the vehicle, there will be long queues and visitors will start shouting. So rules are compromised. There is need for at least two people at one gate so that vehicles can be checked properly.”
   Conservator of forest Bharat Pathak said, “I am not aware of blank paper slips being issued and also about the non checking of vehicles. But we will definitely inquire into the matter.”

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