Chairperson of the Task Force on tiger protection Sunita Narain is against relocating rural people for wildlife conservation, saying locals should, instead, be made stakeholders in conservation of wildlife and promotion of eco-tourism.
“We need a new institutional framework like tiger conservation authority besides wildlife crime bureau to save tigers effectively,” she told HT.
Praising Kanha National Park for its work towards tiger conservation, Sunita, however, observed that the Kanha management can do still better if the conflict between wildlife authorities and the local tribal populace is amicably resolved. She also expressed concern over expiry of lease of the Satpura Tiger Reserve saying if the lease were not renewed it would have detrimental impact on tiger conservation efforts.
She emphasised the need for a policy that requires minimum relocation of local populace, adding peaceful co-existence between the tigers and tribals is the most desirable situation.
“For a country like India with high population density there is an urgent need to resolve the conflict between the man and the animal by mutually sharing the benefits of nature,” she said.
She advocated stake of local people in eco-tourism revenue. Employment in tourism should go to local people so that they have personal interest in conservation of tigers, she added.
Sunita, also the director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), lamented the Centre’s attitude vis-à-vis the findings on impermissible toxic in soft drinks. Union Health Minister Ramdoss has rubbished the centre’s claims about pesticides in soft drinks like Coco Cola and Pepsi as ‘not authentic’, saying the tests were not scientific.
Sunita has filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI) seeking a copy of the report of tests conducted by the Union Government on toxic content in soft drinks.