NAINITAL: Tiger reserves of Uttarakhand- Corbett Tiger Reserve and Rajaji Tiger Reserve are not following National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines regarding spending of 100% tourism revenue from the protected areas for the development and welfare of local population.
Many other tiger reserves of the country where entire amount received from wildlife tourism is spent on development and welfare of local people are following the guidelines of the NTCA to ensure that the local population.
In March this year, an order was issued by state forest department that whole of 100% revenue generated through eco-tourism of the tiger reserves will go to the government.
Jairaj, principal chief conservator of forest and head of forest force, Uttarakhand state, responding to the queries in the matter said, "There is a point of view from the the government side that if every department of the government decides to keep their revenue, how is the government going to function? But the law says otherwise. This is contradictory. The matter is already in knowledge not the government and is being looked into."
Many activists pointed out that taking away revenue generated from the reserves is illegal as well as hampers conservation efforts.
AG Ansari, Ramnagar based conservationist commenting the issue said, "The guidelines were issued by the NTCA to avoid alienation of the local population as many restrictions are imposed as the tiger reserve comes into existence. The money would go for development and welfare so that people take conservation of the protected area as part of their daily life, not something which is forcefully imposed on them by taking away their rights. This is illegal as the government is taking away from its own voters."
Under Section 38 O (c) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, NTCA is authorized to frame guidelines for conservation efforts for any tiger reserve in the country.
The guidelines framed by NTCA mention that the revenue collected from eco-tourism in the tiger reserve will be spent for welfare of local people and will not go to state government.
In case of CTR, a separate foundation was established for the very purpose in 2010. Later, it was decided that the foundation will get only 20 percent of tourism revenue while 80 percent would go to state government. On the contrary, NTCA guidelines say that no tourism revenue will go to state government.
Activists also pointed out that whike tiger reserves are high priority conservation areas, special efforts are required to protect flora and fauna including tigers.
"Earlier, if anyone lost their life compensation was paid up within a month. 30% of the total amount on the very same day while 70% was paid within the month. Now, if any such loss of life takes place, the victim's family is unlikely to get any compensation in the same time duration," said Shekhar Pathak, Padam Shri awardee conservationist.
He also added that same procedure was followed in case of loss of cattle which were killed by wild animals.
At present, CTR houses around 250 adult tigers while RTR is estimated to have 40 adult tigers.