PM to take up with CMs the issue of notification of buffer zones

The issue had come up for discussion at a meeting of the National Board of Wildlife chaired by the prime minister on Thursday.

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    Concerned over undue delay by the states in notifying buffer zones in protected areas, prime minister Manmohan Singh will take up the matter with the chief ministers in this regard to expedite the process, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said today.

    "The prime minister was unhappy over the undue delay by the states to declare buffer zones around wildlife sanctuaries as per Forest Rights Act. He will soon write to the states or hold a meeting, asking them to take up the matter on urgent basis," Ramesh told reporters.

    The issue had come up for discussion at a meeting of the National Board of Wildlife chaired by the prime minister on

    Ramesh was critical of the states for not doing their bit to save the threatened wildlife and instead deliberately adopting delaying tactics to benefit the project developers. 

    "Once the area is notified, the state government knows that they won't be able to approve the projects. Hence the delay and only approvals. But it is high time that they ease the pressures on the protected areas and sanctuaries," he said.

    Ramesh said in Tadoba tiger reserve in Maharashtra, as many as 40 coal and power projects have been approved as its buffer zone is yet to be notified. Only one (Adani Power) was rejected.

    "The real challenge is to identify the negative impacts such projects will have on the wildlife," he said. 

    Same was the case with critical habitats which were yet to be identified by the states with only 18 of them setting up a state-level committee to initiate the process.

    Talking about ongoing village relocation in tiger reserves, he said Rs 8,000 crore would be required to move 77,000 families over the next seven years. So far, out of 80,000 identified families in 37 reserves, only 3000 have been relocated.

    The minister pointed that families keen to move out from the protected areas as well will be offered Rs 10 lakhs financial package as is being done for those in tiger reserves.

    "There is a general perception that we are supporting only village relocation in tiger reserves. But any family who voluntarily wants to move out even if it is protected area, we would provide financial compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to it," he said.

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