Crime is declining in the Sundarbans as smart patrolling proves to be an effective mechanism to combat forest crimes, claim forest officials.
Members of a special smart patrol team are conducting drives in different parts of the Sundarbans using a cyber-tracking system aiming to preserve wild animals, including the Royal Bengal Tiger and deer, as well as prevent other forest crimes.
Mahmudul Hasan, divisional forest officer (DFO) of the Sundarbans East Division, said the special patrol teams conducted drives from January 23 to February 28. During the drive, they arrested 39 people and seized 69 boats and 39 nets after patrolling a 10,339-kilometre area of the mangrove forest.
The drive will continue till December 31 this year, he said.
Using cyber-tracking, the 'Smart patrolling' (special monitoring and reporting tools) team can monitor the dens of wild animals and poaching of Royal Bengal Tigers, and also observe forest intruders.
During the drive, the special team arrested fishermen and intruders involved in fishing illegally in the Sundarbans. They also seized some boats and gill nets.
Tracking crime spots by GPS, the patrol team is taking legal action against those violating forest rules.
Sources said the government introduced the smart patrolling drive in October, 2017, while the team started their work on January 23 in four ranges of the Sundarbans East and West departments.
However, Forest Department sources said the authorities concerned have been considering extending the tenure of the special team for its success.
DFO Mahmudul Hasan said skilled members of the Forest Department have been incorporated in the smart team to help them during the drive.
Amir Hossain Chowdhury, forest conservator of the Khulna region, said the smart patrolling project had been introduced to preserve the natural resources of the Sundarbans.
"Forest crimes have already come down through the drive," he said.
He also stressed the need for increasing the team's equipment and introducing a ration system for them.