Spread across 956 acres, the Takhni-Rahmapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Hoshiarpur district presents a picture of utter neglect with no basic facilities available for the staff nor the animals. Although, the sactuary is yet to be opened for public, with no proper fencing around it, people can easily access it. The sanctuary staff, including a range officer, a guard and a few daily wage employees have no facility of safety kits and other essentials available.
Sources in the department informed that though the Centre had provided some grant for the sanctuary, but there is no information on how much amount was spent on the maintenance.
A senior officer in the wildlife department informed that it is the duty of the department to look after the water facilities for the animals moving inside the sanctuary. “When animals do not get anything inside they uproot the crops in the villages located nearby the sanctuary. The animals even enter the villages and create a sense of fear among the people,” said Jai Gopal Dhiman, a resident of Hoshiarpur and an active social activist.
Villagers have even stopped cultivating their fields due to the fear that their crops may be uprooted by the animals, he added. Not only this, there is no public toilet in the near vicinity of the sanctuary, said a senior officer. He went on to say that for animals’ to drink water only half dozen kuccha (made of earth) and 2-3 pucca (made of concrete) places have been created by the department in the land.
During summers, when temperature goes above 40 degrees, the water in the ‘choes’ (seasonal streams) dries up and the animals are left with no option but to enter human territories to meet their water needs, said locals. Divisional Wildlife Officer Hoshiarpur, Rajesh Mahajan, could not be contacted for comment.
A senior officer in Chandigarh, who did not wish to be named, said much more funds were required for the proper maintenance of the sanctuary. “Government is planning to develop it as a tourist spot, but it will take some time, he said.