Move to revive tiger reserve
HYDERABAD, May 15, 2010
Over 1,000 families, predominantly tribals, residing in the core of the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam tiger reserve are likely to be relocated as part of the efforts to revive the sanctuary, considered to be one of the largest in the country.
The Central government, under whose purview the project lies, has initiated negotiations with the families likely to be affected by offering a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each for their relocation. “We are working with these families. We cannot shift them forcibly,” Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh says. Mr. Jairam Ramesh, who is currently in the tiger reserve on a two-day visit, sees “great potential” for revival of the area.
Mr. Ramesh said in an innovative measure to protect the dwindling population of tigers, 400 youth hailing from the Chenchu tribes had been recruited and entrusted the task of monitoring the tiger population in tiger reserve. The tribal youth will be offered payment of Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 a month for fulfilling their responsibility. “Police and forest guards alone would not be in a position to protect tigers and we have preferred local youth for the purpose,” he said.
Mr. Jairam Ramesh, who held extensive interactions with the ‘new recruits’, told The Hindu that these local youth would forthwith be the ‘tiger watchers and protectors’. Though the department had taken up similar initiatives elsewhere, “it is really taking off in Andhra Pradesh.” He said the department was also facing one of the biggest threats to the protection of ecology in the form of grazing. Close to four lakh cattle came to the reserve for grazing and efforts had been initiated to identify lands where fodder could be grown or areas which could be converted into grazing grounds to prevent cattle from entering the reserve. In addition, the location of nine temples in the sanctuary area was creating hindrances in the revival efforts. “We have to first regulate the traffic flow through the forest area and a mechanism is being evolved in this direction.”
He said the Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam tiger reserve, spread over 3,600 sq. km, was by far the number one among the 39 notified areas in the country, but suffered destruction over a period of one decade from 1994 to 2004. Efforts to revive the reserve had started yielding results with the current tiger population, pegged at 70, showing “great scope for revival”.