Here's some good news for Vidarbha's two tiger reserves -Melghat and Tadoba! The Union government has decided to release Rs 150-crore grant to relocate villages in the tiger reserves. The state government had sought the assistance to free animals from human interference.
The grant would enable the state's wildlife wing to relocate 16 villages of Melghat and five villages of Tadoba.
Maharashtra Forest Minister, Patangrao Kadam told Hindustantimes Times that the issue was placed before the union minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh during his recent Vidarbha visit and finally the ministry nodded in approval.
The Centre's compensatory financial package is being doled out as a part of its strategy to encourage villagers to move out from the villages located in the tiger reserves, thus making them safe for predators besides other species. As per the financial package, the villagers are either provided Rs 10 lakh per family or a piece of land for their rehabilitation, a process being overseen by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) heading the Tiger Project.
The wildlife wing could relocate Botezhari village from Tadoba recently. However, it could not relocate Kolsa village because of paucity of funds. "If the department succeeds to relocate these villages from the tiger reserves, both the famous tiger projects would be free from human inhabitation," says Dr Nand Kishore, the chief conservator of forests (Wildlife)-Vidarbha region.
The efforts would also boost the wildlife protection and conservation in both the famous tiger reserves in the region. The human habitation within in the parks often causes poaching and poisoning of waterholes, leading to killing of tigers and other animals. One tiger was killed in core area of Tadoba in May last year with the help of villagers within the park.
According to Kadam, the Centre has decided to release Rs 100-crore immediately and the process for releasing the balance is in progress. The state had also made a provision of Rs 25.79-crore in this annual budget for the rehabilitation of villages within the Sahyadri Tiger project in western Maharashtra. Sahyadri was declared as tiger project last year.
Project tiger reserves in the state
* There are four tiger projects in the state--- Melghat, Tadoba, Pench (all in Vidarbha) and Sahyadri (Western Maharashtra).
* The Melghat, the oldest tiger project in the state, is located on southern offshoot of Satpura Hill Range in Amravati district with an area of 1676.49 sq kms. It is the home of around 45 tigers.
* Tadoba (Chandrapur district) is spread over 623 sq kms of high hills and lush valleys and under dense teak and bamboo forests. The reserve is also a home for rare wildlife, like wild dogs, leopards, and sloth bear, and baison, hyena and jungle cats, along with a population of around 46 tigers.
* In Pench tiger reserves, bordering Madhya Pradesh, is located at a distance of 70 kms from Nagpur and home for around 20 tigers.
* Sahyadri, the new tiger project of the state was set up by including Chandoli Natonal Park and Koyana Wildlife Sanctuary of western Maharashtra. The reserves spread over an area of 741.22 sq kms. It houses an appreciable variety of bird and animal life, including nine tigers and 66 leopards.