Villages around tiger reserves to be shifted

Villages around tiger reserves to be shifted

29 Sep 2008, 0337 hrs IST, Nitin Sethi,TNN

NEW DELHI: Turning tiger-inhabited forests into inviolate — people free — zones would pick up pace soon. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has requested the Planning Commission for Rs 261.58 crore to relocate more than 40 villages from the core of nine tiger reserves by the end of the financial year.

Considering that the government was able to relocate only eight villages in 30 years since the Wildlife Protection Act was implemented, this would be a big leap in a direction that conservationists and wildlife experts have been clamouring for long.

The big fillip to the relocation process has come, NTCA officials believe, with the enhanced R&R package approved recently. As compared to the Rs 1 lakh that was earlier available per family for settling forest dwellers, NTCA will now provide Rs 10 lakh per adult to those who agree to relocate.

Under the enhanced package, the affected people will have the option to either demand land and a comprehensive rehab package or opt for cash. Proposals from Sariska and Ranthambore tiger reserves in Rajasthan, Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Satpura and Panna in Madhya Pradesh, Simplipal in Orissa, and Kalakad Mundanthurai and Mudumalai reserves in Tamil Nadu have been approved for relocation by March 2009. Rs 40 crore has already been released by NTCA under the centrally-sponsored scheme for the relocation from seven of the nine reserves.

Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, which was in the news for providing the wild cats to repopulate poacher-decimated Sariska, will see two dozen villages being relocated, the highest among the nine reserves.

“We had identified 26,749.09 square kilometre as core zones within all the tiger reserves. These will be formally notified,” said Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of NTCA. Under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, the core zones are to be turned inviolate.

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