Kathmandu, January 7:

State Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation, Dilendra Prasad Badu, today left the meeting of the Parliamentary Environment Conservation Committee after he expressed his commitment to control poaching.

In the first ever meeting of its kind, the minister avoided questions regarding alarmingly increasing cases of rhino poaching, by addressing the meeting at the first and expressing his commitment to check poaching.

The parliamentary committee had arranged the meeting to discuss death of around four dozen rhinos in a year and invited conservation experts, representatives from INGOs and NGOs, government staffers, security personnel and the minister to discuss on the data regarding poaching and challenges related to controlling the illegal trade in wildlife. But non of them were given time to express their views because the meeting was adjourned long before anyone could speak on the issue.

Declaring the meeting open, Speaker of the House of Representatives Subas Nembang asked, “When the shooters and poachers are arrested, the real smugglers and traders are moving free in the capital. What preparation has the government has made to solve the problem?”

He also asked why the government decided to release only the rhino poachers and why more poachers are being released soon. Some MPs flayed the government’s inability to control the daytime poaching and releasing convicted wildlife traders. NC lawmaker Sabitri Bogati said, “How can we be assured that the government is committed to control poaching when we see that a minister awards a known smuggler?” She claimed that the smugglers are working under government’s protection.

UML lawmaker Jagannath Khatiwada went as far as asking the minister to bring data on how many of the government staffers are responsible for the unabated poaching. But before the discussion gained momentum, NC’s Ananda Prasad Dhungana said: “Any discussion on the issue holds no meaning because the minister has come up with his readymade answer before listening to experts’ opinions and our queries,” he said.

Before the meeting was declared adjourned, Minister Badu sought three day’s time to present the government’s report.