Former two-time MLA Rana Goswami of Assam’s Jorhat on Friday demanded a CBI probe into over 500 deaths of rhinos in the State in the past four years.
Addressing media at the Jorhat district unit Congress office, Goswami, also AICC secretary said as per data given to wildlife activist Ranjan Kumar Medhi about 564 rhinos have died in the past four years.
Medhi had been given this information by the Forest Department, after he had applied under the Right to Information Act.
Goswami, quoting Medhi , said as such a large number of one-horned rhinos, an endangered animal, had died, mostly in Kaziranga National Park and a few in the Pobitara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Manas National Park, the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government should recommend a CBI probe to find out the causes of the deaths of the rhinos.
Stating that if there was nothing to hide then the Government should maintain transparency and recommend a CBI inquiry to find out the exact causes of death, be it due to natural or unnatural causes.
He also demanded that the State Government should publish a White Paper on the matter stating the cause of deaths of the rhinos as people should know the facts.
He sought that the Forest Department make public the total number of rhinos in the wild habitats of Assam at the earliest.
Goswami said both a CBI probe and publishing of a White Paper would make the matter clear.
Goswami alleged that the Government was keeping the figure of rhino deaths under wraps.
The AICC secretary pointed out that the BJP before coming to power, had made rhino deaths, mainly due to poaching during the previous Congress government’s rule a big poll issue.
“It is now their turn to come clean on the matter,” he said.
Criticizing the Sarbananda Sonowal-led Government’s decision to contribute Rs 30 crore towards hosting the 65th Filmfare Awards in Guwahati in February next year, Goswami said the amount to be spent on the awards function could have been used to re-open the paper mills in Cachar and Jagiroad.
“Employees and their families of the mills are spending days in penury as they were out of jobs and salaries pending for a long period of time,” he sad.
“BJP which had promised to revive the mills seems to have forgotten the plight of the workers,” Goswami alleged.
Goswami also flayed the recent tour abroad by ATDC Chairman in the name of promoting Assam tourism at the cost of taxpayer’s money.
He observed that such kind of visits to foreign nations by officials incurring huge expenses of government money was not going to contribute in tourism promotion.
Making Priyanka Chopra as a brand ambassador of Assam Tourism by spending Rs 2.3 crores was also a ‘flop show’, he said.
The former legislator further took the State Government to task over the Government’s proposed move to privatize the power sector.