New Delhi: Advancing efforts to conserve the growing population of tigers, the Centre today asked the states to expedite steps towards raising, arming and deploying the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) in and around big cat habitats.
"We persuade all the states to raise, arm and deploy the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF). I would like to request all of you to ensure that this be expedited by all the states," Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told All India Meeting of Field Directors of Tiger Reserves.
Stating that field protection is something which continues to remain extremely high on tiger agenda of India, which holds over half the world`s tiger population, the Minister said the Centre supported the states in a "very big way" to deploy the local workforce for protection of big cats.
"Despite a 100 percent central assistance to four states-- Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Orissa-- the deployment of STPF has not taken place," she said.
Karnataka has emerged as the first state to deploy STPF.
"I am happy to announce and also to congratulate Karnataka, which has emerged as the first state to implement the STPF," she said after distributing awards for best performance to various tiger reserves in the country.
"Tiger conservation is a collective responsibility between government of India, state governments and civil society. Today tigers need support from one and all," Natarajan said.
According to the latest tiger census report, the current tiger population is estimated at 1,706. The results include figures from 17 states with tiger reserves.
The Minster also released a book `Fundamentals of the Wildlife Management` written by Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Natarajan said that since last year, the Ministry has sharpened its focus on the tiger.
"The centrally sponsored scheme of Project Tiger was revised in August 2011. Its allotment was stepped up to Rs 1216.86 crores, especially to support the states for securing inviolate space for tigers," she said.
Spelling out the steps being taken by the Ministry, she said several additional components include change in the funding pattern in respect of north eastern states (90:10), raising compensation for man-animal conflict to Rs 2 lakh and acquisition of private land for making the core/critical tiger habitat inviolate.
The Minister also said the Centre has given a nod for establishment of tiger safaris, interpretation/awareness centres under the existing component of `co-existence agenda in buffer/fringe areas` and management of such centres through the respective Panchayati Raj institutions, and re- introduction of cheetah.