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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mhadei tiger reserve to have 28 villages on the run

May 9, 2012 TEAM HERALD PANJIM: Around 28 villages alone from Mhadei wildlife sanctuary will have to be relocated, if state government goes ahead with its proposal of having tiger reserve there. The Forest department has decided to collect data required to push the proposal for tiger reserve along the wildlife corridor. Renowned environmentalist Nirmal Kulkarni’s help has been engaged by the Forest department to lay camera trap and document the presence of tiger in the wildlife sanctuaries especially in Mhadei region. The department is also contemplating to take help of NGOs working in Ranathambore Tiger Reserve. Additional Principle Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) Richard D’Souza said that he will submit a proposal for having a tiger reserve, if department gets data to suffice it. D’Souza admitted that there are tigers along the corridor, which has been proved in the census done in last few years. The APCCF said that most of the villages are on the fringe area of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary. But as per the data provided to the High Court in a petition filed by former Health Minister Vishwajit Rane seeking denotification of Mhadei area as a wildlife sanctuary, there are 28 such villages inhabited by several thousand people. D’Souza said that the department will have to go for relocation package, if it carries ahead idea of tiger reserve. Forest department has been struggling for decades together in rehabilitating the people living in the wildlife sanctuaries. Environmentalists in the state have been pressing for the declaration of Mhadei wildlife sanctuary as a tiger reserve. The suspicions were raised that the Forest department was averse to declare it as a reserve to protect interest of the mining industry. The animal census held in 2002 had counted presence of four tigers in the state based on pugmarks and other related signs of the wild beast. Later the tiger sightings were reported in 1995, which continued till date. Meanwhile, D’Souza made it clear that whether there is reserve or not, the mines will not be allowed in the wildlife sanctuaries at any cost. He said that once buffer zone committees submit their report, almost 44 mining leases will have to shut their operation, further giving no scope for new mining.

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