SHWETA KAMAT finds out that people now will be forbidden to undertake illegal acts like poaching and commercial activities
The declaration of State’s one of the richest protected areas -- Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary as ‘Tiger Reserves’, is likely to play a pivotal role in protecting, preserving and conserving the wild cat- whose presence has once again been felt in the area. While there are series of apprehensions in the minds of people residing in these areas, the Government as well as the environmentalist claim that the move will have no impact on developments undertaken by the local communities but yes, will certainly restrain them from undertaking illegal acts like poaching and commercial activities.
But, the news may not go down well for the iron ore mining industry players as the declaration will have castigating impact nearly on 5-6 renewed mining leases, as the chances of getting environment clearances (EC) from Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) for its operation will stand almost diminished.
The Mhadei WLS has 28 villages with a total population of over 2250. Former Valpoi MLA and now Minister had in December 2011 moved the high court of Bombay at Goa to challenge the 1999 government notification declaring large areas of the Mhadei as a wildlife sanctuary with a plea to de-notify the same.
The Tiger Reserves are by law more strictly protected, allowing virtually no human activity except that which is in the interest of wildlife conservation. Grazing and private tenurial rights are disallowed. The law does not allow for any commercial exploitation of forest produce, and local communities can collect forest produce only for their bona fide needs.
The activity like agriculture, horticulture, eco-tourism, or any other primary occupations, which is livelihood of the people residing in such areas, continues as per the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The Act also provides rehabilitation of the people residing in the areas declared as Tiger Reserves.
A senior forest official said that capturing tiger images in camera trap alone cannot support the need to declare Mhadei as Tiger Habitat. But, if it happens, the there are provisions in the law, as per which Government can consider rehabilitation of the people from the core areas.