Centre allocates Rs 600 cr for tigers in new plan

The Centre-sponsored Project Tiger Scheme has sent out a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to states as part of a new Five Year Plan that has allocated Rs 600 crore for the cause of the tiger. In keeping with the new-found urgency to preserve the dwindling numbers of tigers, the MoU has asked for all progress to be monitored through photo catalogues and videographing. There are 28 tiger reserves in 17 states. "So far, the states have not had any scope for reciprocal commitment in terms of tiger conservation. We have found that conservation of the tiger is a shared responsibility which the states have to commit to through the MoU. After the MoU has been signed, the Centre will release fund for Project Tiger in the new fiscal year in March,' said Rajesh Gopal, member secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority. In a meeting last week, the Prime Minister had reviewed the new tiger census, and had asked chief ministers to take "personal responsibility' for the tigers in their states. The tiger count is at an all time low with only 1,411 in the wild. "The scheme will be strictly monitored. All activities will have to be catalogued through photos. For some activities, we will ask for videographing for our permanent records. For activities like relocation of tribals from critical tiger habitats, we will have photo cataloguing at every stage,' Gopal stressed. More than 70 per cent of the budgetary allocations have been done for facilitating rehabilitation of tribals and people living in the critical or core tiger habitats. Out of Rs 600 crore, Rs 345 crore has been allocated for deciding inviolate spaces for wildlife and relocation of villagers from reserves within a timeframe, which includes a revised pay package of Rs 10 lakh per family for relocation. While states have to delineate buffer zones, extending up to 10 km from tiger reserves, families living in buffer zones will be involved in eco-tourism. This means that the tiger's critical habitat within the reserves will not be disturbed by the Forest Rights Act. The security net