Funds delay hits tiger conservation
A STAFF REPORTER
Jan. 30: Crucial field operations in Manas tiger reserve will be affected this year as the funds released by the Centre for wildlife conservation efforts are stuck in Dispur.
The ministry of environment and forests has released Rs 43.70 lakh as the first instalment to Manas for 2008-09 but the park has not received the funds yet though the financial year will close in another two months.
The money was meant for deployment of personnel for anti-poaching operations, buying petrol for patrol vehicles and other protection measures.
“The funds were released by the Centre to Dispur in October but we in the field have still not got it. Another two months remain for the closure of the financial year and the money will remain unutilised,” a park official said.
Non-release of central funds by Dispur has turned out to be a major problem for wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
This, despite the fact that the Supreme Court in February 2005 directed the state government to release funds to field formations within 15 days of its sanction by the ministry of environment and forests.
The World Heritage Committee Mission, too, had pointed out last year that non-release of funds by the state government had affected the tiger reserve and was one of the issues which led to its decision of not removing the “World Heritage Site in Danger” tag from Manas.
“While the financial commitment from Bodoland Territorial Council for the management of the site is extremely encouraging, it is very worrying that the issue of the release of central funds to the park by the Assam government is still not solved,” the World Heritage Committee report stated.
The park lies in the BTC-ruled Baksa and stretches to parts of Kokrajhar and Chirang.
Last year, the forest ministry deducted Rs 6.30 lakh from its funds since the park failed to spend that amount from the previous instalment.
The first instalment this year was Rs 50 lakh but was reduced to Rs 43.70 lakh after deducting the unspent balance.
This fiscal, the non-release of the first installment has jeopardised the release of the second instalment as well.
“The second installment is received only after the submission of the utilisation certificates for the first one,” the official said.
The Rs 74.40 lakh was meant for ration for frontline staff, wireless sets, infrastructure development and programmes to curb man-animal conflict.
The proposal for the tiger conservation foundation has still not been passed by the state cabinet though it would have helped the tiger reserve receive funds directly.