Four zonal offices established for TN Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Govt tells HC

Says, a team of one Assistant Conservator of Forests, two Forest Rangers and two Foresters will serve in the offices at Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Ramanathapuram

September 17, 2022 09:37 pm | Updated 09:37 pm IST - Chennai

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF)-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden (CWC) has informed the Madras High Court of a Government Order issued on Wednesday for the creation of four zonal offices of the Tamil Nadu Forest and Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Ramanathapuram.

In a status report filed before Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy, the PCCF-cum-CWC Srinivas Ramachandra Reddy said, each zonal office would have one assistant conservator of forests, two forest range officers, two foresters and one driver to control forest related crimes and wildlife offences.

After submitting the report, Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran told the court that in addition to the four zonal offices, there was also a proposal to appoint a Chief Conservator of Forests to head the bureau from Chennai. The head of the bureau would be provided with support staff too to guide and monitor the activities of zonal offices.

The submission was made in response to a public interest litigation petition filed for empowering the local police officers too to file charge sheets under Section 55 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. The AAG told the court that the issue of empowering the police was discussed in a high level meeting headed by Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu.

During the meet, it was found that the police were already empowered to search, seize or arrest with respect to wildlife offences. However, the power to file complaints under the Wildlife Act alone was given to the forest officials in order to avoid dual control. It was also felt that the forest officials would be better placed to file and pursue such complaints.

The high level meet also took into consideration that a forest cell in the Criminal Investigation Department was constituted in 1985 but it was disbanded in 1997. Now, the government had decided to establish a bureau exclusively for the purpose of controlling forest offences by establishing zonal offices.

The duties of the zonal offices would include collection of intelligence, combatting wildlife crime through a well designed institutional framework, contributing to wildlife crime data bank and to map poaching and illegal trade hotspots in the State for better monitoring and controlling of illegal activities in the future.

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