Proposed tiger reserve in Pilibhit hits a roadblock
Manjari Mishra, TNN, Aug 20, 2010, 03.59am IST
LUCKNOW: The proposed tiger reserve in Pilibhit, second in UP after Dudhwa, seems to have hit a roadblock. Though cleared in principle in 2008 by the Union ministry of environment and forest and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the project could be on hold till serious concerns raised by local politicians are addressed, government sources told TOI.
The reserve, which is expected to cover roughly 1,000 square kilometre area, appears to be jinxed right from its inception, sources pointed out. “First, tense relationship between the Centre and the state led to a delay and now the issue of displacement and rehabilitation of inhabitants in 15 villages within the demarcated core area (27,569 hectares) of the reserve has forced a rethink on the part of government authorities,” they said.
The reserve, as per the blueprint prepared by the department, will directly affect 625 families – roughly 4,000 inhabitants who depend totally on forest produce for their living. Once the pocket is declared a core area, the inhabitants will be forced to move off. Apart from this, the life in about 100 villages on the periphery will also come to a halt as post government notification there will be restriction on movement and activity impacting their day to day lives.
Most importantly the project could mean closure or regulation of district and state highways, particularly the Puranpur-Khatima and Puranpur-Pilibhit stretch. Both are the main arteries in the region and any interference could spell big nuisance to the local populace. The issue will lead to a public outrage – a prospect which has made the local MLAs extremely wary about the upcoming reserve. Worried about the impact on the vote bank, these leaders, therefore, want either a re-routing or alternation in the draft, sources claimed.
After losing the Jim Corbett park to Uttarakhand 10 years ago, UP government had been striving to set up a second tiger reserve in the terai region. Then, two tiger census in 2003 and 2005, which indicated presence of more than 30 tigers in the belt running through Pilibhit, Kishanpur sanctuary and Khutar range in Shahjahanpur had raised its hopes. Moreover, the reserve forest has sufficient prey base and minimal human presence; it fulfils all the parameters set by Project Tiger for the purpose.
The first proposal was sent by the UP government in 2006 and the formal nod came after two years. “But for this hurdle it would have come through by the year end. However, the ticklish issues raised by local politicians who have joined hands could mean considerable remapping and re-routing. This, sources said, will take a long time.