Staff Reporter

Tigers in 18 reserves facing extinction: Minister

Blames poaching and real estate mafia for plight

PALAKKAD: Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on Friday said the tiger population in 18 of the 38 tiger reserves in the country “may die out any time.”

Inaugurating the Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, the 38th in the country, at Anappadi (Parambikulam), he said there were only nine functioning tiger reserves in the country.

The tiger population in the reserves of Sariska (Rajasthan) and Panna (Madhya Pradesh) had almost become extinct. The main reason was poaching, mining and operation by real estate mafia in these areas. “They have finished off the tigers in order to lay their claim on the forests. To save the tigers, we have to save our forests.”

He said the Central government would pay Rs.2 crore annually to each tiger reserve. It would also meet the expenses incurred for relocating people from the core area. Nearly 1 lakh families were living in the core areas of tiger reservesand 3,000 families relocated. The Centre would pay Rs.10 lakh each to the family willing to relocate. There was no compulsion to move out.

In the Parambikulam Reserve, 250 families were living in the core area. Of this, 78 had expressed ‘initial willingness’ to relocate. The government would compensate them.

The Minister said the Centre would provide financial assistance to the Kerala Forest Department to acquire the Pachakanam Estate, situated inside the Periyar Reserve. The Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary would be inaugurated on April 11 and the Indira Gandhi Bio-diversity Institute at Silent Valley in May or June.

The Minister expressed the hope that Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac would present a ‘green budget,’ where there would be lot of incentives for the protection of forest and environment.