A FIVE-YEAR-old girl, walking with her mother along a road in the employees’ colony in Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station (CSTPS), was taken away by a leopard at 6 pm on Wednesday, leading to her death later in hospital.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Nitin Kakodkar said, “The incident occurred around 6 pm. The girl was whisked away by the leopard. Onlookers quickly followed it into the bushes, where the girl was found grievously injured. She was taken to a hospital, where she died.”
The girl, Lavanya Dandekar, is said to be the daughter of a CISF security personnel deployed in the area.
Over the past few years, many wild animals have been sighted on the CSTPS premises, spread over hundreds of hectares and covered with large swathes of prosopis jungle. Breeding tigresses with cubs, wild boars, leopards, sloth bears, antelopes and hundreds of unclaimed stray cattle have made the vegetation their home due to abundant food and water.
With breaches in the CSTPS compound wall, animals straying from the adjoining forests contijiuous with the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) and its buffer area have found their way into the CSTPS area. The animals have often been found loitering close to residential colonies.
“This was going to happen. A huge prosopis forest has grown in the CSTPS, which offers good habitat for big cats and other animals. I have been raising this issue for the past many years, demanding clearance of the vegetation. But the CSTPS authorities haven’t acted on it,” said leading wildlife activist and honorary wildlife warden of Chandrapur, Bandu Dhotre.
Kakodkar said, “We have told the CSTPS authorities many times to clear the vegetation and improve illumination in and around the residential colony. But that doesn’t seem to have been done. I have asked Chandrapur Chief Conservator of Forest N R Praveen to visit the spot and discuss possible measures afresh with CSTPS authorities.”
CSTPS Chief Engineer Raju Ghuge couldn’t be reached for comment.
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