Dedicated money for developing green cover would now also be utilised for relocation of people from the tiger reserves and national parks.
The environment ministry has approved a proposal of National Tiger Conservation Authority to provide money from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to relocate people living inside tiger reserves and other protected areas.
Around 1,78,000 families live inside protected areas including tiger reserves and are considered a threat to wildlife because of increasing man-animal conflict. The ministry’s latest data shows that 652 people were killed and around 17,000 injured in attacks by wild animals between 2002 and 2012. In retaliation, around 100 ferocious animals were also killed during the period.
In a bid to check this conflict, there had been a government scheme to give compensation of up to Rs. 10 lakh for a family willing to relocate in 41 tiger reserves. The fund provided in the 11th five year plan (2007-08) of around Rs. 600 crore for tiger reserves had fallen awfully short for quick relocation.
Therefore, the ministry decided that the money from CAMPA can be provided to the state governments for relocation of people from around 600 protected areas. Some of the state governments have already submitted proposals for the relocation plan.
As per the CAMPA guidelines, each state government can get up to Rs. 1,000 crore every year from the fund corpus depending on the projects they submit. The change, if approved by the Supreme Court, would mean most of the state governments would be able to utilise the limit.
What remains to be seen is whether the court approves the ministry’s proposal as the guidelines does not explicitly provide for relocation of people from forest areas in the name of creating inviolate wildlife zones.
The guidelines say the money provided can be used for assisted natural regeneration, infrastructure development, wildlife conservation and protection in addition to compensatory afforestation. But, relocation is not mentioned. Ministry officials, however, says that relocation of people would result in wildlife conservation and protection.
The standing committee of National Board for Wildlife has asked the government to fast track the decision to permit use of certain percentage of Campa funds for the relocation purpose. The NTCA has supported the committee’s view and had submitted a detailed proposal in this regard.