Safari at Kaziranga National Park | Photo: Jayanta Deka

Assam government has equipped the forest personnel working at the Kaziranga National Park with satellite phones which will give them an edge over poachers in the area.

An official release stated that the Kaziranga National Park (KNP) has become the first national park in the country to have been equipped with satellite phones.

Ten satellite phones were handed over to the forest personnel by chief secretary Jishnu Barua which were activated.

The decision to arm the forest personnel of the park, famous for one-horned rhinos, with satellite phones was taken at a meeting chaired by chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at the Kaziranga National Park on May 27. The meeting was also attended by environment and forest minister, Parimal Suklaibaidya, ministers Keshab Mahanta and Atul Bora, director, KNP, deputy commissioners of adjoining districts and other officials.

“The step to equip the forest personnel with satellite phones was taken to boost anti-poaching measures. The satellite phones will be used in the park’s six ranges with no wireless or poor mobile connectivity,” the statement added.

According to the park authorities, Kaziranga National Park has become the first in the country to use satellite phones as this facility is generally used by the law-enforcing agencies. The public is barred from using satellite phones in India.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority has procured the 10 satellite phones for the KNP at an estimated cost of Rs 16 lakh. BSNL will be the service provider. The national park authorities will bear the monthly expenses, the statement further informed.

Meanwhile, BSNL has trained the forest personnel how to operate the satellite phones in shadow areas and grooves where mobile phones do not function.

“The communication bottleneck will be removed with the use of satellite phones deep inside the park,” said a forest official.

Forest and environment minister Parimal Suklaibaidya thanked the chief minister for the initiative. “I thank the chief minister for realising the communication bottlenecks and taking prompt action to provide satellite phones to the park. The satellite phones will be immensely useful for coordination. There shouldn’t be barriers to communication and hence using satellite phones is a necessity in KNP with a sprawling area. The satellite phones will give an edge to the forest personnel over the poachers and also during emergencies like flood,” he said.

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