Most state government claim that it will not be easy to implement the Supreme Court direction to notify core areas in tiger reserves in the next weeks.
The court's order this week came after it observed that nine state governments have failed to notify core and buffer areas under the Wildlife Protection Act after repeated reminders. On April 3, 2012, the court had asked the state governments to issue the notification but many of them failed to do so.
"It is a difficult task," admitted a senior forest department official of Madhya Pradesh, which has six tiger reserves and was once known as tiger state of India."A large number of people living inside the tiger reserves are opposed to such notification".
The state forest departments were supposed to notify core and buffer zones before January 1, 2008, when the Forest Rights Act (FRA) came into force. This was to ensure minimum protection to wildlife in the forest areas, where rights of traditional forest dwellers and tribals was being recognized for the first time.
But, a requirement under FRA --- consent of locals --- is now proving to be biggest hindrance in declaring core and buffer areas. "FRA has become a problem rather than a solution," admitted an official of Tamil Nadu forest department, where locals have opposed declaration of core and buffer areas.
Apart from seeking consent of locals, officials say, declaring core and buffer zones require a lot of ground work, which is difficult to achieve in three weeks. There has to be proper mapping of forests, where core and buffer are to be declared. The forest departments are required to conduct a survey of the families living inside the forests. And, a compensation package has to be offered if the notification hampers the rights of those living in forests.
In view of this, officials of some state forest departments to whom HT spoke say they would seek extension of the deadline from the Supreme Court to declare core and buffer zones.