`Minister may face jail term for entering tiger cage`
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Last Updated: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 00:16
New Delhi: A Maharashtra minister who entered a tiger cage may face a six-month jail term if found guilty of violating Central Zoo Authority norms, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said today.

"We have asked the CZA to probe into the matter and submit the report within two days. If the Minister, Balasaheb Thorat, is found guilty, law will takes its course," he told reporters here.

Thorat, an agricultural minister in Maharashtra, has been under attack after he was filmed last week stroking a tiger cub in Maharajbagh zoo in Nagpur run by the Agriculture College as his armed security guards and the city Congress president Jaiprakash Gupta looked on.

According to Ramesh, the violation of the CZA rules causing trauma to the animal will attract a punishment of six months jail-term or fine of Rs 2,000 or both.

Describing Thorat's act as not only "irresponsible but also violation of the Wildlife Act," conservationists have been demanding his punishment.

As per CZA rules, only trained conservationists are allowed to handle endangered species. Close contact between endangered species and humans is restricted by zoos worldwide to reduce the animals’ trauma and the risk of infection.

Thorat had defended himself saying, "I wanted to see how the staff are taking care of the cubs, and I saw they are doing a good job."

CZA Member Secretary B R Sharma admitted his department got an instruction in this regard from the Union minister. "We will soon submit the report," he said.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, August 19, 2009, 00:16

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