The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) on Tuesday approved the road-map of over Rs 600 crore for tiger protection and decided to ask states to launch a special recruitment drive to fill the vacancies at the field level with preference to forest dwellers.
In the first meeting of the authority chaired by Environment and Forest minister A Raja, the authority also directed the states to relax norms, if necessary and fill the vacancies within a year. About 50 per cent of field staff in tiger reserves is vacant and the average age of the staff is more than 50 years.
The authority also discussed the proposal of the ministry to seek over Rs 600 crore from the government for tiger conservation in the 11th five-year plan. Of this, about Rs 70 crore is for anti-poaching measures, about Rs 50 crore for giving compensation for man-animal conflict, Rs 100 crore for creating buffer zones and Rs 200 crore for relocation of villages from 'crucial' habitats in tiger reserves within five years. The money sought is as per the suggestions in the final approach paper of the Planning Commission.
According to authority members, the issue of relocation dominated the discussions with emphasis on better man-animal cooperation. "There was a concerted view that relocation should be done only where it is necessary," a member said. In view of this, the authority decided to ask the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) to conduct a study of all national parks and sanctuaries and prioritise the villages that needs relocation in the next five years. "The need of the increase in wildlife population has to be considered," a member said.
The authority also decided to constitute a committee headed by Professor Madhav Gadgil to suggest parameters for independent monitoring of the reserves and fostering field research. A monitoring lab will also be set up at WII, Dehradun. The authority will ask Rs 1.40 crore for this purpose from the government.
In a bid to contain insurgency and Naxalite intrusion in the tiger reserves, the authority decided to a constitute a committee of experts from NCTA, officials from the ministry of Home Affairs, Panchayati Raj ministry, ministry of Social Justice, ministry of Tribal Affairs and Chief Wildlife Wardens of the states. In addition, the proposal to deploy ex-Army men in these reserves would also be deliberated by this committee.
The members were also informed about the progress of Tiger Census being carried out and were told that by next year the results of the census will be announced.
Email Chetan Chauhan: Chetan@hindustantimes.com