To make its tiger reserves free from human disturbance, Madhya Pradesh has sought Rs 2,500 crore from the Centre for relocating 89 villages inside the core and buffer areas of the parks in the next three years.
“We had received such a demand from the central state which we have forwarded to the Planning Commission. Given the tiger crisis in the state, there is an immediate need to make the parks out of bounds for people,” said a senior official from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
He said that MP proposes to vacate a total of 25,020 families living inside five reserves - Panna, Pench, Satpura, Bandhavgarh and Kanha national parks.
The government has offered a financial package of Rs 10 lakhs per family to villagers as an incentive for voluntarily vacating the reserves. Those not keen on getting the money are allowed to opt for a piece of land.
Four villages-one each in Satpura and Kanha and two in Bandhavgarh are proposed to be relocated this year, said Madhya Pradesh Chief Wildlife Warden RS Negi.
Human interference and poachers have taken a toll on tigers in Madhya Pradesh with the big cat count dropping from 300 in 2007 to 232 in 2009.
Panna reserve, which was said to have 24 striped cats till 2008 had none in early 2009, mainly due to poaching assisted by villagers inside the reserves.
In a bid to again introduce the species in Panna National Park, the state government has translocated two tigress and plans to bring a male tiger soon.
“Unless the habitats are made safe for the striped cats all efforts to save them will prove futile.The relocation of the villagers from the national park is part of the government’s steps to ensure conducive environ to the endangered species,” the official added.
There are an estimated 1,500 villages or 65,000 families inside the core and buffer zones of tiger reserves.