Funds dearth for Manas

Guwahati, Jan. 25: Manas tiger reserve might not receive any funds from the Centre this year, as nearly Rs 6 crore received in 2009-10 for the relocation of villagers was still lying unused.

"There is a huge unspent balance already lying with the authorities and hence no money can be released this year," a National Tiger Conservation Authority official told The Telegraph. The relocation process could not take off because of interference by militant outfits, park authorities said.

Rs 646 lakh was sanctioned in 2009-10 by the authorities to relocate 912 persons in Panbari on the fringes of the core area of the tiger reserve.

Manas is already having a tough time as it has lost three rhinos which were brought from Pobitora and Kaziranga to increase the population and is under tremendous pressure from various quarters.

Though meetings have been held with the police authorities after the incidents and a few arrests made, there has been no visible action on the ground which can deter poachers.

"On an earlier occasion we did not get any money and now it has happened again. This will make it very difficult to run the park," a source said.

The relocation will also ensure viable population of other wild animals (co-predators, prey) and forest, thereby ensuring the ecological viability of the habitat.

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.

Panbari area, with an area of 16.3 square km, has witnessed rampant encroachment,

In the first phase, 64 families were targeted for relocation and even that has not been done.

"The families are still not moving out despite the Centre paying Rs 10 lakh per family and the entire process has now got stuck with remote chances of them moving out," the source said.

The tiger conservation authority, knowing well that relocation process will be difficult to get off the ground, had given the green signal to use the funds for civil work, but not much progress has been seen.

The rules say that the monitoring process, involving the district magistrate, will be ensured so that the villagers rehabilitate themselves with the package money provided to them.

NTCA rules say that the relocation process should 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.

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