Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here on Sunday that the Union government had approved two more tiger reserves in Karnataka and the formalities would be completed in a few days.
Mr. Ramesh told reporters that B.R. Hills in Chamarajanagar district and Kudremukh in Chikmagalur district would become the 40th and 41st tiger reserves in the country. The total number of tiger reserves in Karnataka would go up to six, he noted.
The Minister, who visited Muthodi on Saturday to see the release of a captured tiger into the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, expressed satisfaction that Karnataka had the most number of tigers in the country. He commended all those who had contributed to this achievement.
Observing that shifting of the 700 families living in the Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary was one of the most successful examples of relocation in the country, he said 1,300 families in Nagarhole and 300 families in Kudremukh, who were living in the core area, needed to be rehabilitated. He reiterated that there would be no forcible eviction.
The Minister pointed out that the biggest threat to forests was from mining. He said he had written to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa that permission would not be granted for mining in the reserve forests. Fresh applications for mining in Bellary district were not being considered.
Mr. Ramesh said 250 million people in the country depended on forests for their livelihood. The Indian Forest Act, 1927 envisaged that people and cattle were enemies of the forest. This would not work because of demographic pressure and the Forest Department personnel would have to change their mindset.
To a question, he said the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 superseded the Indian Forest Act, 1927. Disclosing that 11 lakh individual forest rights and 3,000 community forest rights were granted so far, he said gram sabhas would become the instrument of control for minor forest produce wherever community forest rights had been granted.
He said the Forest Department had distributed 30,000 LPG cylinders to families living on the periphery of the Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary to discourage them from collecting firewood. This was a good model for emulation in other parts of the country.
Permission would not be given to either the military or the police to set up an academy in the Kudremukh township built by Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd. The township would be used to promote wildlife and other ecological issues.