|Blasting the Tigers Away
Vol 9, Issue 15, Dated 14 April 2012
has refused to learn its lessons from the 2005 wipeout and is blowing
its second chance. As Delhi and Jaipur watch, the reserve is losing its
Jay Mazoomdaar, Independent Journalist
THE NOISE is
deafening, breathing not easy and the sight blurred. Earthmovers are
gnawing away at the rocky earth and tractors lugging heaps of
construction material through the foliage. Jeeps are ferrying overseers
and supplies for hundreds of labourers camping inside the tiger
reserve. Off and on, dynamite sticks go off in silent blasts, spiking
the air with a heady gunpowder stench. Welcome to Sariska. Its heart is
ripped open, literally.
Coming up simultaneously are 22 giant
anicuts, ostensibly to quench the thirst of animals during summers.
NABARD is funding the project worth Rs 11.5 crore and the Sariska
management has sought an additional Rs 3 crore for building another
six. Never mind that the new structures are coming up a stone’s throw
away from old, still-functioning water systems.
Outside the reserve entrance, angry villagers block the road and refuse to let this reporter through.
down and listen to our demands. We can’t sell our land. We don’t have
roads, electricity, ration card, nothing. This is our forest these
corrupt foresters are destroying,” snarl a handful of protesters. The
rest of the crowd has taken their agitation to district headquarter
Further down the road, a few forest guards man the reserve
gate. One of them believes in plain speaking: “Why go inside? The
forest is a construction zone. Forget tiger sighting, we are thankful
that the big cats have not yet walked away. And people keep discussing
why the tigers are not breeding!”
The magnitude of disturbance
unfolds soon. Hundreds of headloads of firewood is moving freely. There
is, in fact, a ranger in charge of collecting “protection money” from
these village women.