Monday, March 03, 2008

Chidambaram purrs for tigers, allocates Rs 50 cr

Chidambaram purrs for tigers, allocates Rs 50 cr

Saturday March 1 2008 10:09 IST
Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Rising concerns of a dwindling tiger population echoed in the budget speech of the Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday as he announced a one time grant of Rs 50 crore to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, mainly to raise, arm and deploy a special Tiger Protection Force.

"The number 1,411 should ring alarm bells. That is the number of tigers in India. The tiger is under grave threat. In order to redouble our effort to protect the tiger, I propose to make a one time grant of Rs 50 crore to the National Tiger Conservation Authority," said Chidambaram.

That tigers could feature in the Union Budget was expected after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a specially called meeting a few days ago and announced stepping up assistance for tiger conservation.

But the budgetary provision is being looked at skeptically by wildlife experts who believe that the implementation the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act would give unquestionable rights to tribals, thus endangering the tiger.

Experts maintain that around 3 lakh of tribal and poor people living in 28 tiger reserves need to be shifted out if tiger is to be saved as they are the ones who help the poachers.

The Union Budget also increases overall allocation for the Environment and Forests Ministry from Rs 1,539 crore to Rs 1,707 crore in 2008, while the funding for Project Tiger has been enhanced from Rs 61.50 crore to Rs 72 crore.

The allocation for Forestry and Wildlife Departments has also been increased from Rs 704.45 crore to Rs 819.92 crore while the funding under the head of wildlife preservation has been raised from Rs 188.64 crore to Rs 226.25 crore.

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