Sunday, July 08, 2007

India: Experts say tiger tourism revenue must help locals

8 Jul 2007, 0130 hrs IST,Nitin Sethi,TNN

NEW DELHI: Field directors of 27 of the 28 tiger reserves and eight proposed tiger reserves have demanded that a part of the revenue generated from tourism activities — hotels, lodges and tour operators depending on tiger reserves — be ploughed back to the local villages, especially villages relocated from such reserves.

This and other recommendations came out of a two-day meeting of field directors with the national tiger conservation authority (NTCA) and other officials of the environment ministry. The meeting drew up an agenda that will be discussed by the National Board of Wildlife — the apex body on wildlife conservation headed by the prime minister — at the end of the month.

Drafting an agenda for the tiger reserves, endorsed by the two ministers of state present at the meeting, the officials have also suggested that special committees be set up to address the situation in the naxal-impacted tiger reserves of Simlipal in Orrisa, Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Palamau in Jharkhand. The committees will comprise two well-known and accepted leaders of the area, a local NGO of repute, a sociologist and the deputy director of the tiger reserve. The committee will facilitate dialogue with the operating groups in the region to save the situation.

Directors of the tiger reserves have also suggested that besides increasing incentives to the field staff, the government should also look at a rehabilitation package for traditional hunting communities in the vicinity of the parks and sanctuaries.

To make up for the lack of staff strength to undertake protection measures, the directors, along with the NTCA, have suggested hiring ex-servicemen and villagers from habitations around the parks.

The officials have also recommended a time-frame of two years to demarcate inviolate spaces for the tiger (with no human habitation) and to settle rights of those displaced in the process.

While these ideas had been earlier suggested in the PM's Tiger Task Force report, this is the first time senior forest officials have endorsed and moved these as firm action points.

The move comes at a point when the NTCA is on schedule to get greater independence from the mother ministry. The ministry is finalising the creation of an administrative and technical committee to support the working of the authority. Once cleared, tiger authority officials will not need to go through the ministry for clearances and daily functioning and will work along the lines of the Central Zoo Authority. tiger_tourism_revenue_must_help_locals/articleshow/2185311.cms

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