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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Govt notifies Sahyadri reserve buffer

Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN | Aug 22, 2012, 01.14AM IST NAGPUR: A day ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on banning tourism in core areas of tiger reserves, the Maharashtra government finally notified buffer zone of the Sahyadri Tiger Reserve (STR) along the crest of Western Ghats in Kolhapur Wildlife Division in Western Maharashtra. According to highly placed sources, both, the buffer and core area of the STR will combine an area of 1,165.56 sq km. It includes buffer zone of 424.34 sq km. The state had notified 741.22 sq km STR on January 5, 2010. It consisted of Chandoli National Park (317.67 sq km) and Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary (423.55 sq km). However, sources said of the 741.22 sq km actual core area i.e. critical tiger habitat (CTH) will be 600.21 sq km. The remaining 141 sq km area has been included in the buffer. According to Wildlife Institute of India estimation, there are 24 tigers in the tiger reserve and its landscape. "The CTH area has been chosen after consultations with gram sabhas, inquiries and expert committee's decision under the provisions of Section 38 (V) of the amended Wildlife Protection Act 1972," officials told TOI. Maharashtra's principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) SWH Naqvi said a detailed notification about the buffer will be out soon. He refused to comment further, saying the matter would be heard in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The National Board for Wild Life has already recommended rationalization of Koyna sanctuary by excluding around 100 sq km area of the STR which includes 14 villages and windmill projects. However, the condition is that Maharashtra will have to notify proposed sanctuaries like Rajmachi (122 sq km), Sudhagarh-Tamni (220.18 sq km), Tipagad (52.4 sq km), Isapur (121.55 sq km) and Kolamarka (187 sq km) in the future. Considering the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) guidelines, a tiger reserve should be around 800-1000 sq km with an equal area of buffer for breeding of 100 tigers. However, barring Melghat, no tiger reserve in the state fulfils the guidelines. The Supreme Court will hear the petition filed by Prayatna, an NGO based in Bhopal, demanding ban on tourism in core areas of tiger reserves on Wednesday. On July 24, the apex court had rapped the states for not notifying buffer zones around tiger reserves and had imposed a ban on tourism in core areas of reserves till further orders.

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