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Karnataka: Conservationist seeks enhanced aid for families volunteering to move out of wildlife zones

Conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni has, in his request, sought to increase the aid for relocation of families living inside wildlife sanctuaries and national parks that have not been notified as tiger reserves

Wildlife conservationist Giridhar Kulkarni has submitted a memorandum to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Vijaykumar Gogi and state Forest Minister Umesh Katti seeking to enhance the aid for voluntary relocation of families living inside wildlife sanctuaries and national parks that have not been notified as tiger reserves. He has sought to increase the funding assistance from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh under Option-I for voluntary village relocation. He has also requested that the package should cover people living in the buffer areas of tiger reserves.

Under Option-I, at present, the Karnataka government gives an amount of Rs 10 lakh to families which volunteer to move out without the help of the Forest Department. Under Option-II, rehabilitation will be carried by the department with a package of Rs 15 lakh. However, this is only applicable to families which own the land.

Kulkarni’s concern is that the provision is not applicable under Option-I which is opted by several families. “It is important to enhance the funding assistance for voluntary village relocation from Rs 10 lakh per family to Rs 15 lakh (for Option-I) to people living inside sanctuaries and national parks which have not been notified as tiger reserves, and also extend it to the buffer areas of the tiger reserves. This would surely boost confidence among thousands of such families who are willing to opt for voluntary village rehabilitation for their better future,” he said.

“It would also fasten the rehabilitation process which would ultimately be a win-win situation for both people and wildlife, an important initiative in reducing human-wildlife conflict. Also, there is no shortage of funds as an ample amount of money is available under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA),” Kulkarni elaborated.

In April this year, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) increased the rehabilitation package from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. However, the order specifically mentions that the funding assistance is provided under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger.

“However, it is not clear whether this enhanced funding assistance is applicable to sanctuaries and national parks since they are not notified as tiger reserves under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (as amended in 2006) and also do not receive funding assistance under the ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger. It is also not clear whether this enhanced funding assistance is applicable to only core/critical tiger habitats or even to buffer areas of tiger reserves,” Kulkarni added.

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