Guwahati, Aug. 3:Suspected militants belonging to the Ranjan Daimary faction of the NDFB are preventing the relocation of people from the Panbari area of Manas tiger reserve, thus throwing a spanner in the Centre’s plans to clear the core area of human habitation.
The site evaluation report of Manas tiger reserve says the relocation process has slowed down and a faction of the insurgents working in the area is instigating the people not to move out.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority had sanctioned Rs 646 lakh in 2009-10 for relocating 912 people in the Panbari area which is on the fringes of the core area of the tiger reserve.
Panbari is the western range of the reserve. The other two ranges are in Bansbari and Bhuyanpara.
The report also says the process is being slowed down because of political interference.
The village relocation is also one of the many indicators under which the reserve is evaluated.
“The militants, suspected to be belonging to the anti-talks faction of the NDFB, are disturbing the relocation process and have created a fear psychosis,” a park official said. The tiger reserve management had initiated discussions with the villagers, who accepted the first option of Rs 10 lakh per family for moving out. There are two options in the relocation. The first is payment of the entire package amount (Rs 10 lakh) to the family. The package does not deal with any rehabilitation/relocation process by the forest department.
The second option is carrying out relocation/rehabilitation of villagers from protected areas/tiger reserves by the forest department.
Manas tiger reserve authorities had opted for the first option — payment of the entire package amount to the family as the second option involving relocation process was difficult to be carried out.
With tiger being an “umbrella species”, the relocation move will also ensure viable population of other wild animals (co-predators, prey) and forest, thereby ensuring the ecological viability of the entire area/habitat.
Thus, it becomes ecologically imperative to keep the core areas of tiger reserves inviolate for the survival of the source population of tigers and other wild animals. Based on empirical scientific data and simulation results, it has been established that a minimum inviolate area of 800-1,200 square km is required for a viable population of tiger (20 breeding tigresses).
A meeting is being scheduled tomorrow on the relocation issue by the management at the park. The entire Panbari area with an area of 16.3 square km is under encroachment.
The Manas tiger reserve with an area of 2,837 square km was one of the first tiger reserves declared under Project Tiger in 1973. In the first option, a monitoring process involving the district magistrate would be ensured so that the villagers rehabilitate themselves with the package money provided to them. NTCA rules say that the relocation process be monitored/implemented by the state-level monitoring committee of which the chairman would be the chief secretary of the state and the district-level implementing committee for ensuring convergence of other sectors of which the district collector would be the chairman.