[ 16 Feb, 2007 0110hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
NEW DELHI: The newly set up Tiger Conservation Authority could lose its edge with the government hinting that it will budget only Rs 65 crore [U.S. $1.48 million] for tiger conservation over the next financial year.
Of this, sources said that about Rs 35 crore [U.S. $797,994] may be earmarked for relocation of people from tiger reserves.
The allocation is a substantial jump from last year's budget of Rs 29.50 crore [U.S. $672,595]. But, the the Tiger Task Force, set up by the Prime Minister in the wake of the Sariska fiasco, had set an expansive and costly agenda for the tiger authority that could now could be jeopardised.
Relocation being an expensive proposition, with just one earlier case of Bhadra Tiger Reserve in Karnataka for 200 families costing the government Rs 8 crore [U.S. $182,399], next year's probable allocation of Rs 35 crore is bound to stall the authority's relocation programme.
Feasibility and prioritisation studies for relocation are already underway. Sources said despite the working group on environment being gratituous and providing the jump in budget, several plans of the authority could get curtailed.
Turning a corner, from being a mere project to a statutory authority under the ministry of environment and forests, the authority was mandated to look at conservation and livelihood issues beyond the 28 tiger reserves in other vast stretches where tigers are found.
Almost half the estimated tiger population, studies suggests, survives outside the reserves. This implies an additional and expensive workload that the tiger project did not have to deal with earlier.
The environment and forests ministry had also been keen on setting up a monitoring lab under the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, for conservation as well as setting up camera-traps, installed in forests for scientific estimation of animal populations, but these activities could now be cut down to fit the budget.