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‘States back Centre in Project Tiger’

Special Correspondent

Union Minister says it will not affect those living in buffer zones

– Photo: D. Radhakrishnan

conservation measures: Union Minister of State for Forests S. Regupathy (second left) discussing a point with Khadi Board Minister K. Ramachandran in Ooty on Sunday.

Udhagamandalam: In implementing Project Tiger the State Governments were extending good support to the Centre, said the Union Minister of State for Forests S. Regupathy.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, he said with eight sanctuaries being recently declared as Tiger Reserves, the total number has gone up to 36.

Averring that in no way will the Project Tiger affect the life style of those residing in the buffer zones of the core areas, he said that a buffer zone has been proposed near the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

Pointing out that under the Project Tiger all the reserves were considered to be critical, he said that Mudumalai qualified to be treated as most critical as along with Bandipur, Kollegal, Sathyamangalam and surroundings it was home to sizable number of tigers. The prey-predator ratio was also very healthy.

In order to step up conservation measures in core areas the relocation package has also been hiked.

Stating that without the consent of the people concerned relocation schemes will not be implemented, Mr. Regupathy said that steps were being taken to relocate about 358 families residing in thirty hamlets within Mudumalai.

The total amount earmarked for implementing Project Tiger over five years was Rs. 600 crore. It was not only for tiger conservation but also for helping people who were likely to be displaced. The project will also help promote community based eco-tourism in the buffer zones.

Underscoring the need to carefully balance conservation and development, he said on the one hand problems relating to environment and global warming have to be tackled and on the other the interests of tribals have to be safe guarded. Expressing the view that the Bill relating to the rights of the tribals would in no way affect the tree cover, he said that the beneficiaries would only be the tribals and those dwelling for the last 75 years in areas declared as forests.

The tree cover in the country which was about 19.5 per cent had reached 23.4 per cent in 2005. Though the objective was to touch the 33 per cent mark by 2012, due to unforeseen environmental problems the achievement was expected to be 30 per cent.

To a query, he said that the Central Empowered Committee was dealing with the problems relating to Section 17 lands in and around Gudalur. The Chief Wild Life Warden R. Sundaraju said that the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve was likely to be re-opened soon. Due to dry conditions it had been closed.

The recent rains have benefited the reserve to a significant extent. Mr. Regupathy held discussions with the Khadi Board Minister K. Ramachandran and officials.

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