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Monday, May 21, 2012

‘30% tiger reserves under Naxal control’

May 19, 2012 By Rashme Sehgal Correspondent New Delhi The Naxalites are expanding their tentacles into the tiger territory. Thirty per cent of India’s tiger reserves are already under their control. Indian forest officials, from the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, present at the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP), complained of increasing Naxal infiltration in India’s heartland. The tiger reserves comprising Valmiki in Bihar, Palamau in Jharkhand, Indravati in Chhattisgarh, Buxa in West Bengal and Simplipal in Orissa are some of the reserves bearing the brunt of the Naxal menace. “The growing nexus between the Naxals and the timber mafia has created a situation where contractors are openly paying a levy to Naxals who are eating into larger chunks of forest land,” said a senior forester. Principal chief conservator of forests, Jharkhand, A.K. Malhotra complained, “The situation is getting more intractable because the local administration is not able to reach the interiors. Poachers also have strong links with these Naxals,” he said. Mr Anil Kumar Mishra, DFO of the Palamau Tiger Reserve was very critical of the lack of NGO activity in the majority of the tiger reserves. “Large number of NGOs are found operating in high profile Corbett Tiger Reserve and in the Ranthambore park but World Wildlife Fund and other organisations are not to be found in Central India where there is much greater poverty and where tribals are in desperate need of livelihood alternatives,” said Mr Mishra. NGOs however retort that Naxalites have driven NGOs working in these areas. Sociologist Jaya Roy pointed out, “They don’t want NGOs to organise people.” Mr Mishra maintains that so far Naxals and foresters have managed to survive only because forest employees and Naxals go out of their way not to step onto each other’s toes. “Our forest guards are local tribals but they are all in their fifties. There has been no recruitment for several years. I have a staff strength of 90 and have to make do with 11 people,” Mr Mishra added.

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