New Delhi: Lack of funds and quality staff,
sloppy intelligence, poorly-armed protection force and delay
in relocating villagers from tiger habitats were among the key
reasons for big cat deaths, a Parliamentary panel has said.
The committee on `conservation and protection of tigers`
flayed the National Tiger Conservation Authority for its
failure to ensure sufficient funds and staff to check the
declining big cat population.
Asking it to plug the gaps, the panel, which tabled its
report in Parliament today, has also suggested that the NTCA
-- entrusted with the task of implementing Project Tiger in
the country -- should speed up village relocation on priority
basis to save the animals.
"The implementation of the Project Tiger under NTCA was
severely hampered by under-staffing at the level of
sanctuaries and the personnel actually employed were also
found to be over-aged, under-trained and under-equipped in
many cases," said the panel headed by BJP MP Gopinath Munde.
Inadequate arms and ammunition, lack of strike force,
poor intelligence gathering and inadequate patrolling camps
were some of the other reasons for tiger deaths, it said.
"As a result, poaching of tigers continued and touched an
annual level of 22 over a period of six years," it said.
Initiated in 1972, Project Tiger has been taking several
steps to ensure tiger conservation and protection. The NTCA is
an autonomous body under the Environment Ministry.
The panel also took serious exception to fact that the
relocation of families in tiger reserves was going on at a
snail`s pace and "at this rate it will take more than a decade
to relocate all the families from the core/buffer area."
Attributing the delay to funds shortage, it noted that
"Against the requirement of Rs 11,000 crore to relocate 64,951
families living within the tiger reserves, the allocation in
the Tenth Five Year Plan was a meagre Rs 10.50 crore."
In its reply, the Environment Ministry told the panel
that since inception of Project Tiger till June 2005, a total
of 80 villages (2904 families) have been relocated.
"During the Tenth Plan, under the enhanced package (Rs
10 lakh to each family) Rs 236.79 crore was provided to states
for 7782 families` relocation."
Pointing out that mitigation of human interference was
important for tiger survival, the panel suggested that the
Environment Ministry should undertake a special donor-driven
project and "link this to the benefits which will accrue to
the community by not cutting trees."
The committee also expressed its reservation over the
authorities` failure to conduct annual census in most of the
tiger reserves. It said the figures were not up-to-date and
hoped that the adoption of new methodology for the ongoing
survey would make it reliable and accurate.
Taking a cue from tiger farming in countries like China
and the UK, the panel has asked the NTCA to explore similar
options by launching a national tiger breeding programme and
reintroducing the tigers in designated habitats.