No direct aid for tiger funds
Guwahati, Oct. 12: The hopes of tiger reserves in Assam getting money directly through the tiger conservation foundation have been dashed because of a lapse at the Union government-level and will be it through the usual state government channel which takes a long time.
“We have been informed that the routing of money through the foundations has to be cleared by the Union cabinet and some formalities has to be cleared. We are disappointed as the money will come through the usual channel,” a senior forest department official told The Telegraph.
The Centre has released the first instalment of the conservation funds sanctioned for three tiger reserves in Assam.
It has released Rs 573.08 lakh for the current fiscal of which Rs 272.72 lakh will go to Kaziranga, Rs 237.5 lakh to Manas and Rs 63.58 lakh to Nameri.
The total amount sanctioned under Project Tiger for the three reserves is Rs 903.55 lakh of which the lion’s share is for Kaziranga (Rs 448.15 lakh), followed by Manas (Rs 356.08 lakh) and Nameri (Rs 99.32 lakh).
“We have worked hard for setting up the foundations and are the first one to do so in the entire country. Now, we will have to wait for the money to come through the government channels which takes a long time and ultimately affects conservation at the field level,” an official in Kaziranga said.
Delay in getting funds at the right time has been one of the main problems of wildlife conservation in Assam as often the money remains unutilised as by the time it is released by the state government, the financial year is over.
“Getting funds released from the state finance department is indeed very difficult. We are not supposed to go to the finance department for getting the money released. Our duty is to protect wildlife,” a park official said.
Manas tiger reserve in 2009-10 could not get funds because of failure in submitting utilisation certificates, which was because of late release of funds by the state government.
The main aim of the tiger conservation foundation will be to facilitate and support the tiger reserve management for conservation of the big cat and bio-diversity through multi-stakeholder participation according to approved management plans and to support similar initiatives in adjoining landscapes, consistent with the national and state legislation.
Formation of the foundations will enable the three tiger reserves in the state to function on its own with a certain degree of autonomy and plough back funds generated through gate collection and tourism activities for managing the habitat and its bio-diversity. At the tiger reserve level, the head of the governing body will be a legislator.