‘People can avoid conflict with animals by taking precautions’
Forest minister Harak Singh Rawat is primarily focused on promoting tourism. Even as cases of human-wildlife conflict are rising in state, the minister says it is up to the people to avoid conflict with animals by taking precautions.dehradun Updated: Mar 16, 2018 22:32 IST
Forest minister Harak Singh Rawat is primarily focused on promoting tourism. Even as cases of human-wildlife conflict are rising in state, the minister says it is up to the people to avoid conflict with animals by taking precautions. Excerpts from an interview
What steps have been taken by the forest department to contain man-animal conflicts?
As approved in a wildlife board meeting, we are working to increase the compensation. We give Rs 3 lakh to the family of a victim of man-animal conflict and it has been decided that it should be increased to Rs 5 lakh.
But, what about checking encounters with wild species, such as leopards?
A-The prey base of leopards is declining and that’s a serious concern. There are ideas like establishing deer breeding centres, but as per Central Zoo Authority (CZA) guidelines, we can’t breed wild animals for boosting prey base in the forest. We are trying to introduce broad leaf trees in forest. But, people could avoid conflict by taking precautions. Most of the (man-animal conflict) cases happened during wee hours or when someone was strolling alone.
You seem to be busy promoting ecotourism activities than working on issues of conflict and poaching.
That’s also necessary. We have opened Kotdwar gate of Corbett Tiger Reserve to facilitate tourists. We did Beatles Festival at Chaurasi Kutiya. As I am also looking after labour department, I want to come up with a holistic plan that could offer livelihood opportunities to locals. We are working on establishing five tourism circuits. The Ecotourism Development Corporation will be offering camping facilities in Rishikesh.
Have you taken decisions to boost conservation in past one year?
We are working on those lines. But, we changed the service rules because of which a large number of youth could get an opportunity to join forest department as guards and foresters.
You have remained in controversies, especially over the deputation of an officer.
It is a common procedure that officers wanting to serve other departments are issued non-objection certificate by the parent department. The officer in question wanted to serve the labour department for which she sought NOC. There’s nothing new about it.