Chennai

Youth who flew drone in MTR let off with ₹1 fine

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Six youth who flew an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as drone, in a reserve forest in Masinagudi in the buffer zone of Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) were booked by the Forest Department, but four of them were let off with a paltry fine of ₹one each on Saturday. Two others were fined ₹2,000. The youth had entered the reserve forest without permission.

The Forest Department’s leniency in dealing with the offenders attracted criticism from environmental activists considering that those entering the forest without permission were fined heftily in the past. In some cases, ₹one lakh was imposed on vehicle operators for taking tourists on safari.

Officials said two of the offenders, identified as M. Musamil Ahmed, 25, from New Sidhapudur in Coimbatore and S. Sasikumar, 25, from Porur in Chennai, were fined ₹2,000. P Santhosh, Nandhakumar, Sanjay and Sushrath, who had entered the reserve forest and were trying to shoot a video and pictures of a new car that they had purchased and were travelling to the Nilgiris in it, were let off with a fine of just ₹1 each. The accused had used a drone to capture aerial shots and were caught by the Forest Department staff and brought to the Forest Range office.

V Sivadas, a conservationist and managing trustee of the Nilgiri Environment and Cultural Service Trust (NEST), said lack of punitive action against the youth was extremely disappointing. He said the Forest Department was even regulating the movement of tribal people in the forests.

Field staff from the tiger reserve claimed highly placed officials and the district administration exerted pressure on them to let off the youth.

Officials from the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve refused to comment on the fine imposed on the youth.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 1:35:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/youth-who-flew-drone-in-mtr-let-off-with-1-fine/article24248607.ece

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