Thursday, July 30, 2009

Special Central assistance for Similipal

Express News Service

First Published : 30 Jul 2009 03:40:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 30 Jul 2009 12:14:04 PM IST

BHUBANESWAR: Three tiger reserves of India, located in the heartland of Red rebels, may actually get some relief if the latest decision on special assistance by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is any indication.

At a recent meeting of the tiger reserve heads, it was decided that Buxa (in West Bengal), Similipal and Indravati (in Chhattisgarh) would receive special support from MoEF given their precarious state of affairs.

Besides, a host of incentives have been planned to motivate the forest staff working in the difficult terrains.

While Similipal is the latest addition to Maoists’ list, Indravati and Buxa have long been havens for radicals. The realisation to deal with the issue, as per wildlife experts, could not have come any sooner.

A four-member high-level team, appointed by the MoEF is set to arrive soon.

It will visit Similipal and assess damage caused in the recent Naxal attacks, study the need for infrastructure and submit a report.

The meeting also decided that the staff salary of Project Tiger at Similipal will be borne by the Ministry. It will reduce the burden on the State Government enabling it to focus more on conservation and habitat management. The Ministry will also double the allowance of the staff up to the rank of assistant conservator of forests (ACF).

The meeting discussed raising of the tiger protection force which will be as per the existing plan of action prepared by the Forest Department which has proposed that State Police would be assigned the work of raising and training the force comprising three platoons.

The unit will be under the administrative control of Field Director of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) but Mayurbhanj District SP would be overall incharge. No person beyond 45 years would be in the force.

The Centre which has earmarked Rs 50 crore for 13 reserves will bear both the recurring and non-recurring expenditure of the force.

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