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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Nod to tiger conservation foundation rules Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN

NAGPUR: In a boost for tiger conservation, the governing body headed by forest minister Patangrao Kadam has finally cleared rules to run tiger conservation foundations (TCF) in three of state's tiger reserves - Tadoba-Andhari, Pench and Melghat.

"The TCF rules are approved with many innovative provisions," said Praveen Pardeshi, principal secretary for forests, Maharashtra. He said power to levy gate entry fees has been delegated to field directors and may be increased by 10% per year. Secondly, income of 'project tiger' can be utilised for eco-development but have to targeted at activities that create biomass alternatives for village dwellers - like cooking gas connection and subsidy for cylinders to reduce fuel wood conservation, creation of fodder plots in villages and to reduce free grazing by cattle in open forest.

The official said the foundations would focus on protection activities including incentives to informers and those who help detect poaching. "Now local youths will be employed for fire protection and stake of local villagers will be high," Pardeshi told TOI.

SK Khetarpal, principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), wildlife, Maharashtra, said the foundations would start operation in a day or two. Khetarpal is also member-secretary of the governing body that approved the rules. Apart from Kadam, senior forest officials, MLAs Sunil Kedar from Saoner, Kewalram Kale from Melghat, and state environment minister Sanjay Deotale attended the meeting.

The tiger foundations were set up following amendment to Wildlife (Protection) Act in 2006. Section 38X provides for their establishment in each tiger reserve to facilitate and support management, apart from taking initiatives for involving people in conservation.

The foundations for TATR and Pench were set up on November 25 and December 15, 2008. In Melghat it was set up on February 10, 2009.

Three foundations were ready, no rules were framed to govern them financially, they could not start functioning. A three-member committee of field directors was set up to frame the rules. These rules have now been approved. "Many times funds are released in March and in such a situation, it's impossible to complete proposed works. Now, field directors will be able to deposit these funds in TCF. Gate fee will also go to the foundation," officials said. 'Tadoba Ratna' award will be constituted for conservation works.