Activities of the Gulf of Mannar Bioshpere Reserve Trust (GOMBRT), a special purpose vehicle set up for the conservation of the biodiversity in the region, have been hit, as the State government is yet to release funds after taking over its functioning from January 1.
The Government issued a G.O. on November 16, 2012, taking over the functioning of the trust after UNDP funding came to an end on December 31, 2012. After taking it over in January, the government sanctioned Rs 2.50 crore for 2013-14, but the amount is yet to be released.
The government also sanctioned Rs 48 lakh for three months (January-March) until the commencement of the financial year in April for running the office, buying fuel for vehicles and making payment to field staff and contract workers, but that was also not released yet, sources in the Trust said. “We have been managing the office since January with the UNDP fund, lying with the trust after the UNDP undertook the final evaluation last year. We will reimburse the amount once the government releases the fund,” the sources said.The Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve was one of the biodiversity-rich areas in the world with more than 4,000 species of unique flora and fauna and the trust was formed in 2002 to conserve the globally significant assemblage of coastal biodiversity. However, its activities such as research works on thrust areas, public awareness on the significance of the biodiversity of the reserve and training programmes for providing alternative livelihood options to the fisherfolk have come to a standstill for the last five months for want of funds, the sources said.
The Trust could not conduct workshops, seminars and conferences as part of public awareness creation on sustainable management of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, the sources said. The capacity building programmes, involving school and college students and short term vocational training programmes to the students, also suffered a setback, they said.