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    Published On : Thu, Dec 3rd, 2020

    Illegal jungle safari racket busted in TATR; guard, agent arrested

    Nagpur: The officials of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (T ATR) have busted an illegal jungle safari racket on Wednesday. A Forest Guard, deployed at Navegaon Gate under TATR, and an agent involved in illegal entry of tourists have been arrested by Chimur police.

    According to the sources in the Forest Department, the guard, Tekchand Rupchand Sonule, was hand in glove with agent Sachin Santosh Koychade, who used to advertise on social media about the availability of entry from the Gate. Information about entry availability was passed on to the agent by Sonule. Sonule was deployed at Navegaon Gate of TATR as part of routine duty to check activities of tourists at the gate. However, the private travel agent Koychade entered into TATR for jungle safari along with some tourists reportedly without permit from administration. Koychade had allegedly entered into TATR after ‘paying’ Rs 9,000 cash to Forest Guard Tekchand Sonule. On being informed, the senior officials of TATR sent a team to check the illegal activities in the core area of Navegaon Range under TATR.

    During a raid by Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Mahesh Kore, both admitted they were illegally allowing vehicles in the core area. The ACF found that both the accused were involved in the illegal entry business since long. The accused guard and agent were detained and taken to Chimur police station where an FIR has been lodged. TATR Deputy Director (core) Nandkishore Kale said that Sonule was under the scanner for the past one month. Though only tourists who booked tickets online are allowed entry in the core, the forest guard used to push through vehicles illegally even under VIP quota, and against vehicles that didn’t turn up.

    Sources said Sonule had a social media group and used to get in touch with resort owners for entry. For example, if five vehicles were allowed from the gate, the number of vehicles while reporting used to be five only, but actually more vehicles used to enter.

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