DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand forest department has decided to move villages in the buffer zone of Corbett and Rajaji Tiger Reserve outside the limits of the protected sanctuaries to provide better amenities to them.
Presently, the over 500 residents of the reserve, live under several restrictions. The forty-six villages and clusters in the buffer zone are barred from building permanent structures, applying for electricity and water connections and hence, have to live in tattered and old houses.
“The department officials have been instructed to draft a proposal for rehabilitation of the people residing in the buffer zone and eco-sensitive areas of both the tiger reserves. Soon, the proposal will be put in the cabinet for further approval,” said state forest minister Harak Singh Rawat.
“We want better facilities and living standards as other people of the state. I hope the rehabilitation plan works out,” said Pratap Singh (39), who has lived in the buffer zone of Corbett Tiger Reserve all his life.
In 2015, the Uttarakhand High Court had ordered removal of 80 families residing within the boundaries of the Rajaji Tiger Reserve.
It has been alleged in a petition that an ashram has also been constructed illegally. Similarly, around 50 families had built temporary accommodations in Ampokhara range of the Corbett Tiger Reserve landscape cutting down the trees which amounts to serious violation of many forest laws including Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The encroachment was forcibly removed by the forest department on May 21, 2015. Named after C Rajagopalachari (Rajaji), a prominent freedom fighter, Rajaji National Park spread over 820 sq km with more than 500 species of birds. The main species of birds include pea fowl, woodpeckers, pheasants, kingfishers and barbets.