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Forest dept seeks funds from State for Project Tiger

Left high and dry by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), the State Forest department has been forced to approach the State government in the hopes of getting funds for rehabilitation projects under Project Tiger in Karnataka.

The department, the nodal agency responsible for Project Tiger, claims it is in the throes of a financial crisis as it has suffered a poor flow of funds for rehabilitation projects aimed at reducing human presence in tiger habitats.

Now, the department is placing a proposal for the release of Rs 300 crore in the 2013-14 State budget. Officials from the department, however, are sceptical about the proposal’s acceptance, as the scheme is Centrally sponsored. Furthermore, the Karnataka government has already declined to respond to a similar request made in the last financial year.

Funds needed

The department has sought Rs 92.40 crore for Nagarhole from the State government. It also hopes to get Rs 3.60 crore for Anshi-Dandeli, Rs 4.01 crore for Bhadra, and Rs 200 crore for the Kudremukh National Park. “During the last few years, despite our continued efforts, we have been able to secure funds only for Nagarhole. As a result, we are approaching the Karnataka government. The lack of funds, coupled with continued efforts by NGOs who are persuading forest dwellers not to relocate, has impeded effective rehabilitation,” explained Dipak Sharma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

Karnataka has five tiger reserves: at Bandipur, Bhadra, Nagarhole, Anshi-Dandeli and the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple area — together containing over 285 tigers. An additional 40 to 50 tigers have been identified as residing in other forests, including at the Kudremukh National Park (KNP).

Incidentally, Karnataka has rejected proposals calling for KNP to be declared a tiger reserve despite the Centre’s approval to do so.

Project Tiger aims at ending human interaction in tiger-populated areas and offers a rehabilitation package to help relocate families found in “core” and “buffer” areas. Families in “core” areas are offered Rs 10 lakh as compensation.

A total of 8,374 families have been identified in tiger reserves and national parks, of which 856 families have been relocated till date. The Forest department is yet to begin a survey at the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple, which was declared a tiger reserve in 2011.

Successful beginning

The most successful rehabilitation project has been at Bandipur, which in 1973, became the first forest area to be declared a tiger reserve. A total of 154 families resided in the area — all of whom were rehabilitated and relocated to Sollepur in HD Kote over a period of time.

In Nagarhole, the department has spent around Rs 19 crore — of the total Rs 29 crore released by the NTCA — and has relocated 496 families to Shettihalli Lakkapatna in Hunsur. As many as 133 families have agreed to move, and the department is in the process of completing new homes at the rehabilitation site.

In Bhadra, the department has shifted 418 families to MC Halli and Kelagur near Chikmagalur by spending Rs 17.65 crore till date. At Anshi-Dandeli, of the 4,114 families, only 36 have come forward to accept the package. At Kudremukh National Park, of the 1,382 families which lived there, the department spent Rs 5.59 crore to shift 61 families. Recently, an additional 531 families have volunteered to be relocated.
 

                                                                                    Deccan Herald, Bangalore, 7th January, 2013