Van Gujjars to be roped in for wildlife conservation

Van Gujjars to be roped in for wildlife conservation 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 formulated.

"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 agitation.

Bureau Report