It is Environment minister Jairam Ramesh versus Uttarakhand chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal over killing of a tiger, claimed to be man-eater, near Corbett tiger reserve.
Ramesh on Tuesday asked the state government to impose section 144 of Code for Criminal Procedure (prevents gathering of more than four people) where tiger attacks a person to ensure safe capture of animal. On Wednesday, the locals decided to stage a demonstration against Ramesh, assisted by local BJP leaders, against the suggestion.
“How can we prevent people from gathering at a site where a tiger attacks a villager,” said a state government functionary. And, added that tiger conservation cannot be done sitting in the air-conditioned offices in Delhi.
Pokhriyal has so far not agreed to Ramesh’s suggestion of a joint inspection of Corbett and nearby areas. According to officials, many of the suggestions made by the union minister were not implementable.
Another twist in the controversy has emerged as instead of relocating the Sunderkhal village from the buffer zone of the Corbett as suggested by Ramesh, the state forest department, headed by CM, has demanded a study to examine presence of four to five tigers near the village.
“It is an unusual behaviour,” said Anil Baluni, vice-chairperson of State Forest and Environment Advisory Board, who claimed that they four to five tigers have been caught on camera near the village.
Tiger being a territorial animal has an area of about 10 sq kms and another tiger can enter the area only after killing the present there. “We want National Tiger Conservation Authority’s suggestion on how to deal with this situation,” Baluni said.
Jairam Ramesh has asked the state government to immediately send a proposal for seeking 100 % assistance to relocate Sunderkhal village, which is there since 1974. At least five persons of this village, in buffer zone of the reserve, were mauled to death by a tiger, killed last week, in a month’s time.
Coming down strongly on the state government for brutally killing the tiger, Ramesh has suggested that two units of rapid response units should be set up to capture the animal to avoid lethal encounters.
To overcome the problem of increasing tiger population in Corbett and reduce man-animal conflict, Ramesh has suggested that parts of Lansdowne, West Terai and Ramnagar divisions should be declared as buffer of Corbett. He also wants the state government to monitor movement of tigers and killing cattle by them to avoid conflict.
The minister has also said that the state government should appoint Brijendra Singh, as honorary wildlife warden for Corbett for appropriate guidance. Singh in the recent past had been critical of officials at Corbett on management of the reserve.