Govt dithers on revenue sharing, Rajaji tiger foundation not in place
The delay in the decision over revenue sharing modalities with Uttarakhand is delaying the formation of a tiger conservation foundation in Rajaji even after the national park became a tiger reserve more than two years agodehradun Updated: Sep 22, 2017 20:07 IST
The delay in the decision over revenue sharing modalities with Uttarakhand is delaying the formation of a tiger conservation foundation in Rajaji even after the national park became a tiger reserve more than two years ago.
The foundation’s mandate is proper utilisation of revenue earned through ecotourism for welfare of the reserve by strengthening anti-poaching cell, providing better infrastructure and ensuring better services to field staff.
One of the key aspects of the foundation is to connect the locals with livelihood opportunities and thereby minimising their dependency on the reserve. Engaging locals in protection of tigers and finding avenues in ecotourism activities which directly provide them employment are some of the steps to help the people inhabiting near the reserve.
While the Centre says the reserves should get all the earnings, the revenue sharing models are different in Uttarakhand. Corbett, the state’s other tiger reserve, and the state government share revenue on a ratio of 20:80. It only keeps 20% of the earnings while the rest goes to the state treasury.
At a State Board for Wildlife meeting in 2015, it was suggested that both the parties will get an equal share. Forest officials claim the proposal is being dealt by the finance department.
The Rajaji authorities had sent a similar proposal demanding the reserve shares be raised to 50% of the total revenue generated. But this suggestion is yet to get clearance from the finance department which will decide the share after consulting the government.
Corbett earned nearly Rs 9.25 crore within the seven-month tourism period this year, while Rajaji generated Rs 2.50 crore.
“Increase in revenue sharing was discussed three years ago but the government is taking long to decide the matter. Unless the share of Corbett is decided which will be replicated in Rajaji, the Foundation cannot be constituted,” chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati told Hindustan Times.
Last week, the directors of Corbett and Rajaji along with Khati participated in a two-day event at Periyar in Kerala to discuss better tiger conservation practices. Incidentally, the event was largely focused on strengthening tiger conservation foundations of all reserves so that the protected areas can manage their expense through its revenue.