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Maharashtra minister apologises for entering tiger cage

     Nagpur: Maharashtra's Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat has apologized to the Ministry of Environment and Forest for violating the Wildlife Protection Act by entering the cage of a tiger cub at Nagpur zoo. "I met Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh and explained him my side of the story. I had no wrong intention except the development of the zoo," Thorat said. "I also apologized for having violated any norms by entering the cage and the minister would decide further," he added. Thorat, who is also the district in charge minister of Nagpur, had visited the Maharajbagh Zoo on Independence Day along with city Congress officials. The Maharashtra Congress unit claimed that Thorat acted at the behest of zoo officials. His action drew flak from wildlife and environment conservationists. They have demanded action against Thorat as he violated zoo rules and the Wildlife Protection Act. Meanwhile, member-secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) B. R.Sharma has given a clean chit to a Thorat and his associates saying they cannot be held responsible. "Yes prima facie, there is a violation of the Act as the minister had entered the tiger cage on August 15, but the zoo administration is responsible for the Act," Sharma said. Sharma was deputed by the CZA and the Ministry of Environment and Forest to get first-hand details of the incident. The Maharajbagh Zoo is maintained by the Punjabrao Deshmukh griculture University's College of Agriculture. Thorat, who is also the Pro Chancellor of the University, in his capacity as Agriculture Minister, had entered the tiger cage during a routine inspection visit.
-August 23, 2009

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