Heritage panel seeks Manas report
Guwahati, July 10: The World Heritage Committee has asked the Centre to inform it by next year whether the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation is operational and financial arrangements are in place for the site.
Sources said the committee had asked for the report by February 1 next year for examination at its 36th session in 2012.
The committee in its report said sustained finance to the site remains a critical long-term requirement to secure its full recovery.
It urged the authorities to ensure that the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation was made operational as soon as possible and that funding for the property from the Centre was channelled through the foundation to avoid future delays in the transfer of funds to the property.
The Centre has informed the committee that the proposal for the Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation is currently awaiting Parliament approval, which is expected to come soon.
Though the foundation was formed two years back, it has still not been operationalised.
“All the hard work seems to have gone in vain and it is now nearly two years but the foundation has still not been operationalised,” a park official said.
The joint IUCN/Unesco monitoring mission, which visited the park in January this year, had pointed out that though lack of funds had not prevented activities necessary to allow recovery of the outstanding universal value of the site, the situation would have been much better if the funds-release problem had been fully addressed.
The slow release of funds for the site from the state government is an issue that has been raised by all previous Unesco/IUCN monitoring missions since 1997.
In fact, in 2009 and 2010 the park management was forced to operate for two years on one year’s budget as the state released the funds at the end of the year, rather than disbursing them directly to Manas at the time of receipt from the federal government.
A 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court states that funds must be released by the state government within 15 days of receipt from the Centre but this has not been implemented in the case of Manas.
Every year, the park management has to submit three annual plans of operation — one for project tiger, biosphere scheme and elephant project, but unfortunately the release of funds is sometimes delayed which has a serious impact on the efficient implementation of management activities.
The monitoring mission had also found the majority of available cash flow to the site comes from the BTC of which a major proportion of these funds is spent on staff salaries.
The park has also been asked to submit a comprehensive tourism management plan and a recovery plan for swamp deer by February 1 next year.