STPF team nabs 24 fishermen from Totladoh reservoir

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 May 2018 12:48:11


Special Correspondent,

In a major breakthrough, the authorities of Pench Tiger Reserve, Maharashtra, arrested 24 fishermen who had entered the tiger reserve illegally for fishing on Saturday evening.

The Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) boat patrolling team, while on its routine patrolling inside Totladoh backwaters became suspicious on movement of 24 persons near Totaladoh reservoir’s Magzin nalla no. 2, Compartment 528 of South Bodalzira beat of North Salama Round, East Pench Range of Pench Tiger Reserve.

Immediately, STPF patrolling party swung into action, coordinated with staff of East Pench Range, confined the trespassers and detained all of them. They were then taken to Range Forest Office at Sillari for further enquiry.
Atul Devkar, RFO, East Pench, supervised the operation while STPF staff was led by Mangesh Tate, Mohan Chati and Prashant Humane, all RFOs, and also Round officer Khorgade.

Forestmen recorded statements of the fishermen in presence of Geeta Nannaware, Assistant Conservator of Forest (Anti-poaching Unit), Pench. The operation lasted till late in the night. All the accused have been arrested and the PoR no. 247/25 was issued under various sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Indian Forest Act, 1927, and other legal provisions.

There was lot of pressure mounted on the forest officials and scene created by family members of offenders from New Totladoh and Dongartala, the villages to which the offenders belong to. But the work was carried out smoothly with active assistance from the police team from Deolapar, who rushed to Sillari and remained there till Sunday morning.

The entire operation was carried out by the field staff and STPF jawans of Pench Tiger Reserve, who have been actively and systematically monitoring the activities of the fishermen round the clock, for last few months.
The accused were produced before S C Tayde, Judicial Magistrate First Class, Ramtek, who granted MCR to 21 accused for 15 days and FCR to three accused - Balram Nandlal Takot, Nandu Ghanashyam Morshiya and Chandan Ghanashyam Morshiya - for one day.

Ravikiran Govekar, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve, rushed to Sillari and gave necessary instructions to the staff members. Neenu Somraj, Deputy Director, S S Bhagwat, Assistant Conservator of Forest, Pench, also supervised and co-ordinated the operation.
Adv Kavita Bhondge, Legal Advisor, also visited Sillari and helped in preparing legal documents. Shailesh Balkawade, Superintendent of Police, Nagpur Rural, quickly ensured necessary support to the operation while SRPF team was also involved in the operation. The Pench authorities have been fighting this issue for last several years.

Last year, the fishermen were forced to leave their den like Golpahadi. Several of their boats were destroyed and nets collected in Maharashtra Pench side. There is, however, constant pressure from them despite the action as the financial gains for them are enormous. The field staff were instructed to be alert and systematic in action.
Patrolling by STPF was also conducted regularly. Co-ordination meetings were also held with MP Field Director to tackle the vexed problem.

Fishermmen are not able to use the boats but they may try to dig out old boats dumped inside water. Most of the boats have been destroyed so far.
“We need to consistently act to weed out this menace completely and also look into alternative livelihood options for the villagers as it is socio-economic issue too. We are trying this through active eco-development activities. This operation is a good example of systematic patrolling, coordinated efforts of STPF, wildlife range staff and also the quick support by Police and SRPF,” said Govekar.

‘Continuous patrolling paid off’
“The illegal fishing activity in Totladoh reservoir was stopped totally in February. However, continuous watch since then paid off. Stray incidents occurred some times but yesterday’s successful operation sent a message in fishermen’s community that fishing is not easy for them in the reservoir,” said Ravikiran Govekar, Field Director, Pench Tiger Reserve.

“The staff had totally stopped camping of fireshermen at Golpahadi and seized boats. The fishermen were exploring the possibility to take possession of the boats dumped inside the water. A team of 12 forestmen coming towards water overpowered 24 accused fishermen on Saturday, which is an appreciable act. The team alerted others on wireless and soon another team reached the spot to help. Forestmen seized eight bicycles and nets from the spot. The Pench officials had made arrangements in case fishermen resorted to violent methods and also requested the concerned Judicial Officer to hold sitting at Sillari, in case of trouble,” said Govekar.