B2 (1997-2011)

B2 (1997-2011)

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Maharashtra gets three new tiger reserves

India has three more tiger reserves now. On Friday, Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan announced the creation of three new tiger reserves in the Vidarbha area of Maharashtra. They also declared that Nagpur will become the hub of tiger tourism in India.

The Central government has also agreed to allocate Rs 50 crore for relocating villagers from the Melghat and Tadoba reserves in the state.

The three new reserves will come up in Navegaon, Nagzira and Bhor. Navegaon, which is already a national park, has an area of around 450 square kilometres, while Nagzira is spread in 150 square kilometres. The new reserves are located at the border of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. According to experts, this area can be productive for new reserves, but only if proper care is taken to sustain the tiger-conservation programmes.

Vishal Bansod, a wildlife activist from Amravati, who works in Navegaon and Nagzira, feels that these areas are good for the movement of tigers. He says, “The initiative of the government is positive, but these areas are already national parks. It’s not enough to turn them into specialised tiger reserves.”

Navegaon and Nagzira are connected by the Devri corridor, which aids the movement of tigers into the forest. Bansod feels that protecting this corridor is the most crucial aspect of turning these tiger reserves into productive zones. “This corridor houses 50 villages. I conducted a socio-economic study six months ago in this area and concluded that the area has great wildlife potential. But, the [Mumbai-Kolkata] highway goes right through this area, and that’s a bit of an obstacle. It’s very important to shield this corridor for the safe movement of animals,” he said.

Poonam Dhanwatey of the Tiger Reserve and Conservation Trust echoes this worry. She said, “Developmental projects in forest areas need to be planned in a way which will avoid fragmenting the forest area. This will ensure that the eco-system is balanced.” She also feels that the highway right in the middle of the forest will hinder the conservation work.

Navegaon is a semi-evergreen forest, while Nagzira is a good-quality dry deciduous forest. Wildlife experts believe that strong buffer zones should be created around areas where human activity is strong to avoid the tiger-human conflict.


Nagpur to be promoted as tiger capital: Jairam

MUMBAI: Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Friday complimented Maharashtra on the increase in tiger population in the State. Nagpur will be promoted as the tiger capital and a gateway to tiger land, he said.

Mr. Ramesh had a two-and-half-hour meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and many senior officials from the Centre and State to arrive at critical decisions to develop infrastructure and tourism.

Thirteen of the country's 39 tiger reserves are in Maharashtra. New guidelines for eco tourism will be announced next week to boost tourism especially in Project Tiger areas, Mr. Ramesh said.

New reserves

New tiger reserves have been approved in the State at Nagzira-Navegaon and Bor.

Another major decision was to decentralise the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and set up three field offices and the first one would be opened in Nagpur. Mr. Ramesh said he would extend all assistance to help Nagpur emerge as a major eco tourism destination and the setting up of the NTCA office would be a step forward.

In addition, Rs.50 crore will be provided for resettlement of villages inside the Melghat and Tadoba tiger reserves. He said he and Mr. Chavan would be inaugurating a project next week in Gadchiroli after the announcement by his Ministry that bamboo can now be treated a minor forest produce (MFP). The nodal agency would be the gram sabha and it would open a new era of the Forest Department working with the people.

For too long, the tribals have been perceived as enemies of the Forest Department and this had to change, he said. The paradigm of forest management had to undergo radical change and the tribals hade to be made partners in sustainable forest management.

Rich minerals were present in the tribal areas, which were also prone to violence, and the Forest Department had a key role to play in the anti-Naxal operations, the Minister said.

Two major changes

The two major changes — making bamboo an MFP and mandatory permission of the gram sabhas for filing of cases by forest officials against tribals — would send signals on making tribals partners in forest management, he said.

According to Mr. Ramesh, Maharashtra is one of the few States where the man-animal conflict has been studied and there is a severe problem with the leopard population, which is reflected even in Mumbai which borders the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Detailed guidelines evolved from the Maharashtra experience will be put up by the Ministry on Monday.


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