PM asks chief ministers to help in tiger conservation

February 23rd, 2008 - 1:23 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) Concerned over the decline in the number of tigers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday asked chief ministers to take personal charge of tiger conservation and forest management in their states. The prime minister will convene a conference of chief ministers with tiger reserves to put in place a coordinated response to the challenge of tiger conservation, an official statement said Friday.

Chairing a meeting to review tiger conservation status in the country and the functioning of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Manmohan Singh said that the government was fully committed to tiger conservation.

He said the government would enhance financial and organisational support for conservational efforts.

However, he noted that recent estimates of tiger population, arrived at on the basis of a new methodology, “cannot be compared with earlier estimates”, the statement said.

The latest census by the NTCA had earlier this month revealed that there were only an estimated 1,411 tigers left in the wild in India today, less than half the number found in the 2002 census.

The prime minister directed that the government should fund modernisation of tiger reserves management, including recruitment of staff from local population and provide them adequate equipment. He also sought a state-specific strategy for such central assistance.

The government has recently approved an enhanced relocation package of up to Rs.1 million per family for families living in tiger reserves.

Schemes for rehabilitation of traditional hunters, for supporting new reserves, for supporting eco-tourism benefiting local communities, for deployment of anti-poaching staff, and for improving service conditions of forest officers have also been taken up, the statement added.

While noting that some states have a better record of tiger conservation than others, the meeting stressed the importance of concerned state governments paying focused attention.

The meeting was attended by the Minister of State for Forests S. Regupathy, Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the NCTA director among other officials.

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