WWF sues Thapars

WWF sues Thapars Controversy continues to dog the helicopter crash in Corbett National Park last year, with the Indian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) filing a case recently in Delhi High Court, for unauthorised flying in the Project Tiger park. The helicopter's occupants, from the Thapar group of industries, are said to have broken several laws to hunt game in the park.

The WWF case alleges members of the Thapar family have been poaching in the park for years and were let off on a similar charge earlier because of political patronage.

The helicopter, belonging to a Thapar firm, India International Airways Pvt Ltd, crashed into the Kakghar dam while making its third landing on October 21, 1992. Park officials came to know of the crash in December when police reported a helicopter was missing.The Thapars are reported to have retrieved the aircraft illegally from the dam in January. Bits of wreckage left behind are now in the custody of the UP police.

An enquiry panel set up by Union minister of environment and forests Kamal Nath, accused the Thapars in its report of having violated the Wildlife (Protection) Act, the Forests Act and Civil Aviation regulations. The Thapars are said to have entered the park without official permission, poached in the foresi, had their helicopter deviate from the flight path filed with aviation authorities and then fly at a low altitude over the dam.