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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Forest department revives Tiger Reserve tag plea for Kudremukh

Ashwini Y S, Bangalore, April 30 2012, DHNS: Says National Park area not to be expanded; no eviction of villagers The State Forest department has once again mooted the proposal to get Kudremukh National Park (KNP) declared a Tiger Reserve, a status which has been withheld despite the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) giving its in-principle approval several months ago. Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, during the campaign for the Udupi-Chikmagalur Lok Sabha byelection, had said the government would cancel the Tiger Reserve status enjoyed by Bhadra Tiger Reserve (BTR), besides dropping the proposal to get KNP declared a Tiger Reserve. The announcement had come at a time when villagers of both Bhadra and KNP had voiced concerns about being evicted. Now, with there being no election, the department is hoping that the government will revisit the proposal. Kaushik Mukherjee, Additional Chief Secretary, Forests, told Deccan Herald that he had written to Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara to notify KNP as a Tiger Reserve. He said this would not mean any “extra status” to KNP in terms of protection. “I sent the file to the Forest minister 10 days ago. There was much opposition to declaring BTR Wildlife Sanctuary a Tiger Reserve as well. But, eventually it was notified as a Tiger Reserve. There will be no difference in status of protection – no villagers will be evicted from the area,” he said. Mukherjee said the department would not push for extension of the boundary of either Bhadra or KNP. “The expansion has been opposed, and I don’t want to go against the powers that be. Even if KNP is notified as a Tiger Reserve, the existing area will not change,” he said. Forest Minister Yogeeshwara was not available for comments. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) of the MoEF had given its in-principle approval to the State government’s proposal to declare KNP a Tiger Reserve last year, with the then Union Forest minister Jairam Ramesh strongly backing the proposal. The Centre’s nod ensures grants to the State under Project Tiger. The State has, however, withheld the status, not making efforts to hasten the process. KNP, which is spread over 600.57 sq km, has 29 villages. Of the 300-odd tigers in the forests of Karnataka, KNP is said to be home to around 15. Tiger conservationist Sanjay Gubbi says the government’s move to shut down the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited has helped improve the eco-system. It is a unique tiger habitat with a mixture of evergreen forests and shola grasslands. It will be ideal if the government declares it a Tiger Reserve, he says.

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