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10 octobre 2011 1 10 /10 /octobre /2011 18:30


Indian jungles.com


Funding for Tigers may be Reduced

Plan panel move to hit tigers hard

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN, Sep 29, 2011

NAGPUR: Tigers in India seem to be getting cornered with each passing day. A few days after a tigress was beaten to death by Chhattisgarh villagers comes the news of a government move that would drastically reduce the funds needed for its protection and conservation. Its existence is already under a major threat due to a shrinking habitat.

The planning commission has proposed to merge the three centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) - Project Tiger, Project Elephant and the Integrated Development under Wildlife Habitat (IDWH) - into one. The move, however, has been strongly opposed by all nine members of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL), the highest body to decide on all wildlife issues.

A subcommittee headed by BK Chaturvedi was set by the planning commission to restructure the CSS. Chaturvedi, who is a member of the planning commission, discussed the issue with ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on July 29. The committee's brief was to find ways to enhance flexibility, scale and efficiency of the scheme.

On August 17, Indrani Chandrasekharan, the adviser to planning commission, wrote to MoEF secretary T Chatterjee to take action in the matter. The letter is in TOI's possession. She states that the merger was decided "to include conservation of lions and rhinos too".

Getting wind of the move, all 9 NBWL members wrote a strongly-worded letter plan panel deputy chief Montek Singh Ahluwalia expressing shock and surprise. The letter, sent on September 17, has been signed by M K Ranjitsinh, Bittu Sahgal, Prerna Bindra, Kishore Rithe, T R Shankar Raman, Divyabhanusinh Chavda, Biswajit Mohanty, Asad Rahmani and Bibhab Kumar Talukdar. A copy has also been sent to environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and MoEF secretary T Chatterjee.

Chatterjee was on leave and not available for comments. Efforts to contact environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan proved futile. An e-mail to the minister's officer on special duty, Dr Gayatri Devi also did not get any response.

"Our stand is that schemes like Project Tiger and Project Elephant should have their own identity," Ranjitsinh told TOI. The noted conservationist is also the chairman of the Wildlife Trust of India.

"We are unanimous that such a merger would be a retrograde step and would adversely impact our efforts to conserve wildlife and nature and the tiger which is our national animal," states the NBWL letter to Ahluwalia.

Project Tiger was initiated at the instance of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1973 and, therefore, has been in existence long before the MoEF itself was established in 1985.
The project has undoubtedly had its limitations, but its contribution to saving of tigers, and, importantly, the diverse habitats and life forms of which the tiger is an integral part, has been unquestionable. "It has been recognized in the world over as one of the most successful conservation endeavours ever," the letter added.

"The Centre has acknowledged the efficacy of Project Tiger identity by not only giving it a special status by upgrading it as National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) but also making it a statutory entity by incorporating it in the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972," said Rithe who runs a tiger-conservation NGO, Satpuda Foundation.

"To now step back and take away such a focused effort will be undermining India's commitment to conservation," says Prerna Bindra. She added that the government should work on "strengthening Project Tiger, and especially Project Elephant, and not diluting them".

With over 1,700 tigers as estimated in the figures announced earlier this year, India not only has more than half the tigers of the world but also has the largest number of Asiatic elephants. "Elephants represent the remnant forests of India and it was in recognition of this factor that Project Elephant had been launched," the letter continued.

The NBWL members have appealed to Ahluwalia to reconsider the merger of three schemes and allow them to continue as before and "to allocate requisite funds and support to them".


*LESS FUNDS FOR TIGERS: Funds meant for the tiger may have to be shared with lions, rhinos and other wildlife. There's no clarity on the distribution

* LOSE SHEEN: The states which have more tiger reserves benefit under the present scheme due to separate allocations. Now the two projects will have reduced status. Technical and managerial inputs may also suffer

* WRONG MESSAGE: It will put a question mark over cause of conservation and send wrong message to the world which looks upon India as a role model in tiger conservation

* STATE TO BE HIT: Maharashtra, which has 42 protected areas and four tiger reserves, will be a big loser. Their future too could be in jeopardy


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