Tiger project: Jairam for World Bank aid, to meet conservationists
Posted: Tuesday , Jan 05, 2010 at 0448 hrs
A year after India decided to refuse World Bank aid for tiger conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forests is considering accepting aid from the Bank for moving forest dwellers out of tiger reserves.
Initial discussions within the ministry have not found favour with conservationists, who stress that World Bank, which has a poor history in implementing projects in protected areas, should not be looked at as an option. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has now asked for a meeting with conservationists on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
The ministry is mulling the possibility of a loan from the Bank to move forest dwelling families out of core/critical areas of tiger reserves. An amendment to Wildlife Protection Act in 2006 mandates moving out these families, around 80,000 in number, with the population only growing. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has offered a package of Rs 10 lakh for each male adult in every family.
Last year, the World Bank announced a Global Tiger Initiative, expressing its desire to also work with India. There were talks with the World Bank for taking aid for tiger conservation, but this was finally turned down after protests by conservationists.
In the past, the World Bank-funded Ecodevelopment Project (EDP) (1997-2003) implemented in several tiger reserves had drawn severe criticism. A probe in an EDP project for Nagarhole Tiger reserve revealed the project had run into losses, as tiger protection took a beating in lieu of ecodevelopment. There were also allegations of corruption.
The ministry has, meanwhile, confirmed that it is taking World Bank loan for cleaning the Ganga. A decision on taking aid for tiger conservation is expected on Wednesday.