New Delhi: In a bid to strengthen the mechanism for conservation of wild cats, the Environment Ministry has come up with draft guidelines for voluntary village relocation in notified core critical tiger reserves across the country.
"The protocol/guidelines aim to ensure that all necessary statutory procedures for the full and effective implementation of relocation are adhered to; and that in the process of conservation and protection of tigers, the right of forest dwellers are respected," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement after issuing the draft guidelines here.
The purpose of the protocol is to facilitate the state Forest Departments to carry out village relocation from notified core/critical tiger habitats.
The draft guidelines, however, specifically said that "relocation must be purely voluntary and must not in any manner use force or coercion".
The Minister said Section 38V 4(i) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 "specifically provides for the consolidation of key tiger habitats, based on the urgent recommendations of the Tiger Task Force."
According to the 1972 Act, core or critical tiger habitat areas of national park and sanctuaries are required to be kept as "inviolate" for the purposes of tiger conservation, "without affecting the rights of the Scheduled Tribes or such other forest dwellers."
The draft guidelines are being placed on the Ministry website for a period of 30 days to seek inputs from a wide spectrum of stakeholders.