Vast resources of timber and wildlife in Madhya Pradesh’s six tiger reserves are at a greater risk from timber mafia and poachers after park managements have been forced to cut down on frontline staff deployed for their protection.
Such situation has reached mainly because of reduction in budget made available by the Union government for the management of tiger reserves in the state.
The sanctioned amount from the Union government has been reduced by 32 % in 2015-16, contributing to the crisis, sources in the forest department said.
Wildlife in areas outside tiger reserves is not any safer either after the state government too massively reduced the amount in a budgetary head created for wildlife conservation outside tiger reserves, the sources added.
These cuts have been effected before the CM’s announcement that budgets of all departments will be cut by 15% to fund relief payment to farmers. After that is done, the situation will be more critical.
No funds to pay to chowkidars
According to the sources, the Union government that sanctioned rs 41.35 crore for the six tiger reserves in the state in 2014-15 has reduced the amount to Rs 27.92 crore in 2015-16. Consequently, the six tiger reserves viz. Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh, Satpura, Panna and Sanjay have witnessed cuts in their management budgets.
“We have had to reduce the number of chowkidars that we engaged on temporary basis in the park as there are no funds to pay them. All parks are facing a shortage of permanent staff like forest guards and range officers which compounds the protection issue,” said a field director of a tiger reserve.
Budget for wildlife outside protected areas reduced to Rs 31 crore from Rs 122 crore
In another development, the state government has cut down on funds it had pledged to wildlife conservation in areas outside tiger reserves and sanctuaries.
The state government had created a budgetary head for wildlife management outside protected areas in 2015-16, pledging an amount of Rs 122 crore for it.
However, last week the finance department informed the wildlife wing of forest department that the funds in the head have been reduced drastically to Rs 31 crore.
“This is bound to weaken protection measures and other wildlife management activity outside sanctuaries and national parks. There has been a proliferation of tigers in such areas, for example around Bhopal but reduction in funds will cast a shadow on wildlife activities in such areas,” said a senior forest department officer.