Bhubaneswar: Voicing concern over reports about Odisha lagging behind as compared to the national trend of increase in tiger population, Congress on Thursday said it reflects the failure of the state government.
"It is unfortunate that Odisha Government failed to take proper steps to ensure conservation of tigers whose number has dropped in the state," Congress stalwart and Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Narasingha Mishra said referring to the tiger census released by Union Environment Ministry.
Stating that proper conservation of tigers was the responsibility of all states after it was declared the national animal, Mishra said forest ministers in the state had failed to take concrete conservation measures for the animal.
Reacting sharply to the report, former state Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik said Odisha has become one of the worst performing states in the nationwide census released by Environment Ministry.
While the total tiger population in the country showed a 30 per cent rise, increasing from 1706 in 2011 to 2226 in 2014, the number of tigers in Odisha has declined from 32 to 28, he said.
"The issue is not about tiger alone, the more substantive issue is that the number of tigers is an indication of the overall state of the environment, as tiger occupies the top of the pyramid in the animal food chain," Niranjan said in a statement.
The former Minister claimed that deforestation has become rampant and the corridors between different tiger habitats have been completely degraded.
The state government has failed to stop poaching of not only tigers but even the prey, he alleged, adding, with the merciless cutting of trees and illegal mining, the king of jungle is becoming extinct from the state.
Niranjan said the BJD government's performance in managing Odisha's environment and wildlife has been an abysmal failure, while states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have a shown spectacular success in the same.
Naveen Patnaik government is equally clueless when it comes to managing the state's elephant population, he said. Man-animal conflict has become an epidemic with poor farmers incurring huge damage to crops and many human lives getting lost as well as elephants getting killed, Patnaik said.
"It seems Naveen Babu will wake up when elephants come calling on the Odisha secretariat or Naveen Niwas," the Congress leader said.
Dismissing the opposition views, ruling BJD spokesman Amar Prasad Satpathy said there seems to be some mismatch due to different methods used for tiger census operation.
It is not correct to conclude that tiger population in Odisha has declined as the forest cover in the state has increased, he claimed.
BJD leaders noted that Odisha was said to have at least 192 tigers in 2004 and their number cannot drop so sharply.