|State fails to get
Central aid for tiger reserve
TIMES OF INDIA
Kumar Verma, 19th August 2009
PATNA: The Valmiki Tiger Reserve,
the only such reserve of Bihar, is facing a unique situation. Many
ex-servicemen, whose services were roped in to strengthen the security
arrangement here to thwart threats facing wildlife from poachers, have
stopped reporting to their duties.
According to field officials,
denial of regular salary payment has been the root cause of this
desertion. "These ex-servicemen were not paid for the last four months
of previous fiscal (2008-09) and from April to July in the current
fiscal (2009-10) leading to their loss of interest in the job," said an
official and added that one should not be surprised if the remaining of
them too stopped coming in the near future.
Lack of funds has
denied salary payment to these ex-servicemen who, otherwise, are of
great help in providing security to the wildlife as forest department
sanctioned posts for regular staff is not sufficient to meet the
security requirement of this reserve spread over 840 sq km area.
pertinent question which arises here is, why this reserve lacks funds
when the Centre is willing to dole out huge funds for the proper upkeep
and security of tiger reserves across the country.
Well, it has
nothing to do with the Centre's partisan role. Rather, it is related to
the failure of the state government to fulfil a statutory requirement
for being eligible to receive the Central funds.
the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (as amended in 2006), the state
government has to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to get Central assistance.
Bihar has failed to meet this requirement for reasons best known to the
mandarins running the affairs of environment and forest department here.
have submitted a Rs 3.5 crore annual plan of operation for the current
fiscal of which around half of the funds would have come as Central
assistance had the state government signed the MoU with the NTCA," said
a field official.
Even in 2008-09, against an annual plan of
operation worth Rs 2.5 crore, the reserve got less fund. This despite
the fact that the Centre had sanctioned over Rs 49 lakh as the first
instalment as aid for the reserve. The state, however, could not use it
due to its not signing the MoU with the NTCA.
Minister of state
for environment and forest Ramji Rishideo, however, is hopeful that the
state would be able to use Central funds this year. "One team is
working specially for signing the MoU which would be inked very soon,"