Procurement rules stall tiger translocation in Rajaji
A tiger translocation project is caught in red tape as the Public Works Department’s response is needed by the Rajaji management for a specialised work that necessarily may not be the expertise of the government agencydehradun Updated: Jan 11, 2018 20:35 IST
A tiger translocation project is caught in red tape as the Public Works Department’s response is needed by the Rajaji management for a specialised work that necessarily may not be the expertise of the government agency.
After a nod from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Rajaji management had finalised five companies for the construction of special cages for soft release of tigers in western part of the reserve. Rajaji is the third reserve in the country after Sariska and Panna to get the nod for translocation of tigers.
The Uttarakhand government’s rules for procurement makes it necessary for engagement of the Public Works Department (PWD) in any construction work whose budget exceeds Rs 15 lakh. In the tiger translocation project, the agencies finalised to construct cages have quoted Rs 30 lakh - a figure relatively lesser than the market cost of Rs 45 lakh (for three cages).
The Rajaji management is awaiting a response from the PWD, which is primarily engaged in planning, designing, construction and maintenance of government properties in the field of built environment and infrastructure development.
Officials are in a fix as not only the construction of cages is an altogether different task, but also because the PWD lacks the capability in handling a sensitive task like tiger translocation. “It’s the procurement rules that binds us to engage the PWD for this scientific task. But, we will first confirm with the PWD engineers. I will also talk to the government to relax norms for the project so that an appropriate agency can undertake this task,” Rajaji director Sanatan Sonkar said.
It’s been over five years now that the project was planned to translocate tigers from Corbett to the western part of Rajaji (570 sq km) that has two tigresses. There are 32 tigers showing healthy signs of breeding in the eastern part (150 sq km) but they are cut off from the tigresses in the other side. The plan is to introduce one tiger and two tigresses in the western side. For that they will be first released in big enclosures with forest-like conditions before they are let off in the wild.
The officials have received the permission to radio collar the three tigers chosen for the project. But the Rajaji field staff cannot radio collar the tigers till the enclosures are ready. “Radio-collars will be put once the cages are ready. Also, we don’t know how much time it will take to construct enclosures. It is not advisable to put collars on the tigers unless the situation is clear,” an officer involved in the project said.
AK Singh, team leader at the World Wide Fund’s Terai Arc Landscape said there was a need to prepare enclosures first. “It’s important to keep the infrastructure ready before radio collaring tigers that will be translocated. The project, I am sure will start soon.”