The Uttarakhand forest department has instituted an inquiry into alleged financial irregularities in the Rajaji Tiger Reserve (RTR) during last five years.
Jai Raj, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Uttarakhand forest department said on Sunday that he has ordered an inquiry into the allegations of financial irregularities in Rajaji Tiger reserve during the last five years.
“I have ordered the constitution of a four-member probe committee in this regard which will submit its report within two months”, he said. HT has a copy of the order issued on Friday (October 23).
It says the inquiry has been ordered following complaints in 2018 by three men involved with wildlife issues – Dinesh Chandra Pandey, Rajeev Mehta and Aditya Sharma. An earlier probe had found irregularities in the Motichur range of RTR. The report in the matter was submitted in March 2019 which stated that there were financial irregularities in the range, especially with regard to approving receipts without scrutiny, removal of Lantana grass, food receipts of patrolling staff and so on.
According to the PCCF’s order, when range officers/forest officials were asked about the irregularities in Motichur range, they said such things were happening in other ranges of RTR also. This makes it clear that financial irregularities have been committed in RTR on a big level, the order states.
The four-member probe committee constituted by PCCF includes additional PCCF (administration), chief conservator of forests (personnel), financial controller state forest department and honorary warden RTR.
RTR spread over 820 sq km in three districts of Uttarakhand- Haridwar, Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal, was established in 1983. In April 2015, Rajaji was declared as a tiger reserve, becoming the second tiger reserve in the state after Corbett Tiger Reserve.
RTR is home to 23 species of mammals and over 300 species of birds. It has 38 tigers while the whole Rajaji landscape has 52 tigers, as per the latest All India Tiger Estimation Report.