Van Gujjars to be roped in for wildlife conservation

A meeting of Gujjar delegation and govt representatives began to discuss clearance to a pending reservation bill, while a sit-in the community organised to press for their quota demand turned out to be a cultural event.

New Delhi: Van Gujjars, a community
traditionally living in the forests of Corbett Tiger Reserve
can now hope to play a key role in wildlife conservation in
the area as a scheme to provide them contractual jobs in the
park is on the anvil.

"The move is aimed at integrating the locals in
wildlife conservation efforts as they know the forests like
the back of their palm," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
told media.

A protocol detailing the criteria for their
recruitment such as salary and education will soon be

"We will soon frame a policy for their recruitment for
protection of the reserves which will be entirely on contract
basis. Of course an educated gujjar will be a bonus for us,"
Vinod Singhal, Director of Corbett Tiger Reserve said.

He said the jobs will be offered on contract basis and
not on regular basis for which state government`s permission
is a must.

"Salary will be taken care under the Central
assistance schemes for Tiger Project," he added.

This is for the first time that Van Gujjars will be
deployed in the reserve which is abode to over 160 tigers.

"We have to suggest salary scales and different
options that we can offer to the Van Gujjars who have deep
knowledge about the jungles. They will certainly give boost to
our wildlife protection activities," Singhal added.
Indicating that provision of 14 per cent reservation to
ECB (Economic Backward Class) was the sticking point in the
bill, Gehlot had said yesterday that it has to be decided
either by the Centre or Parliament.

When asked about his meeting with governor S K Singh
the CM said, "The Governor showed positive attitude towards
the bill... However, it is his prerogative ...CMO can not
comment on its fate".

The Rajasthan SC, ST, OBC, Special Backward Classes,
and Economically Backward Classes Bill-2008, which was passed
in the Assembly in July last year following a violent
agitation by Gujjars to press for Scheduled Tribe status that
claimed 47 lives, is awaiting the Governor`s assent.

Yesterday, the community had threatened to revive the

Bureau Report