JORHAT, (Assam): Rare orchids were seized from a privately owned ‘bio-diversity park’ which is believed to be a front for smuggling of plants. Smuggling of rare and endangered plants is a lucrative business.
Bokakhat Police (on March 2) seized samples of “three endangered species of orchid” from the Kaziranga Orchid and Biodiversity Park at Kohora in Golaghat district, following searches conducted by a team also comprising officials of the forest department and botanical experts.
A case has been lodged against KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi and his associates at the Bokakhat Police Station under Sections 120(B), 121, 420, 406, 409, 34 of the IPC and under Section 4 of (II) of the Assam Land Grabbing Prohibition Act, 2012, in this connection.
The police action came in response to an FIR (First information report) by Guwahati-based RTI activist Dulal Bora against Akhil Gogoi on February 26 at the Bokakhat Police Station. The report said that the ‘peasant leader’, along with a few others, had encroached government land, including forest land, to set up the said park.
Bokakhat Sub-Divisional Police Officer Bitul Chetia, who led the search operation in the Park, told The Assam Tribune that the three endangered orchid species seized from the biodiversity park were handed over to the forest department. The three species, identified by Prof Tulsi Bora and Prof Dilip Bora of the Department of Botany, CNB College (Bokakhat), were Beddomes Cycad, Blue Vanda and Ladies Slipper, he said, adding that the samples will be examined further and thereafter appropriate Sections of the Wildlife Protection Act will be added to the case against Gogoi.
Possession of orchid species, as notified under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 as ‘Endangered Species’, by any person or organisation is illegal, he said.
It may be mentioned that Dulal Bora had alleged in the FIR that Gogoi is the “kingpin of orchid mafia”, who is “plundering” local flora and fauna and is smuggling them abroad to earn foreign currency.