Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Law minister flouts law of jungle.
AMRELI: Gujarat law minister takes pride in breaking the law, clicks himself in the act and merrily uploads the pictures on social networking sites. He's unabashed about it and flaunts the rising number of hits his photoshoots are getting on Facebook. So what's the minister up to?
Law minister Dileep Sanghani violated forest rules by stepping out of his vehicle at Gir National Park and organizing a photo-shoot with Asiatic lions. And instead of coughing up a fine, the minister is covering himself in glory.
Sanghani, who is also minister for agriculture and cooperation, had visited the sanctuary in October last year. The pictures, which show the minister striking various poses near the wild cats, were uploaded in March and were 'liked' by over 330 people on Facebook.
Speaking to TOI, Sanghani said, "Earlier, there was an issue of lions getting disturbed. Now, camera technology has advanced in leaps and bounds. We can take photographs without annoying the animals at the sanctuary. I have grown up with lions and there are regular sightings at my farm near Savarkundla."
Senior forest officials concede they are having a tough time controlling crowds at Gir after the launch of Amitabh Bachchan's campaign - Khushboo Gujarat ki. Now, political leaders and senior officers are flocking to the sanctuary. "Everybody wants to get close to the lions. Sometimes our hands are tied when VIPs visit the sanctuary," a top forest official said.
Under section 38J of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, those teasing wild animals, throwing plastic in the sanctuary or stepping down from vehicles are fined. The penalty varies with the nature of violations.
"Rules cannot be relaxed for politicians or VIPs. Tourists have been barred from getting down from their vehicles to protect lions," said Revtubha Rayjada, a wildlife activist and former member of wildlife advisory board, Gujarat.