Conservationists welcome more money to save tigers

February 29th, 2008 - 3:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram


New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Conservationists and officials have welcomed Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s announcement Friday to allocate Rs.500 million to help the critically endangered tiger. “We welcome this announcement by the minister, though the government has already committed to us Rs.6 billion in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) for tiger conservation,” Rajesh Gopal, director of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) told IANS.

While presenting the national budget for 2008-09 at the Lok Sabha, the finance minister expressed concern over the dwindling number of tigers, calling the situation “alarming”.

While welcoming the extra grant, some conservationists felt it should be disbursed effectively in the field and should not lie idle in the coffers of state governments.

Ashok Kumar, vice chairman of the NGO Wildlife Trust of India said: “The big challenge is to utilise the money effectively in the field. Most of the time it remain unutilised in the states.

“The states should distribute the money to the tiger reserves and to the concerned authorities without delay so that it can be used effectively in tiger conservation.”

Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary magazine, said: “The amount of money spent on destroying the tiger habitat is 100 times more than the money granted for the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The entire belt of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand will be destroyed.”

In a report earlier this month, the NTCA had announced that India now has only about 1,411 tigers left in the wild.

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