The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests on Wednesday decided not to accept the World Bank’s aid for the tiger conservation programme.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, chaired by Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.

Though Mr. Ramesh was keen on accepting the aid, conservationists were against the move. “Personally, I was very keen that the World Bank provide us with funds, at least for ensuring livelihood for villagers living on the fringes of the tiger reserves, so that they do not try to return to their original habitat. But because of the reservations of wildlife experts and officials, I have shunned the plans. In a nutshell, no aid from the World Bank,” he told reporters at a function here.

The aid was to be given for improving the livelihood security in some States. Though Mr. Ramesh refused to explain the reasons for rejection, participants of the meeting cited the World Bank’s “record” in implementing eco-projects in protected areas.

Bittu Sahgal said the World Bank’s aid came with conditions; all the contracts would go to U.S. consultants. “What advice the Americans could offer us when they finished off their carnivores,” he wondered. Tiger expert Belinda Wright alleged the World Bank was unable to inspire confidence in its conservation programme taken up in the past, as its eco-development projects had adversely affected tiger habitats.

“We should not allow the World Bank to get involved in our tiger project. We have sufficient money and resources. The experience with the Bank has not been very encouraging,” said a senior official.

“Why do we need the help of the Bank, which has ripped apart our natural resources by supporting projects for dams and mining at the cost of conservation,” asked P. K. Sen, conservationist and former director of Project Tiger.

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