New Delhi, October 13, 2012
The Planning Commission has allocated Rs. 5,889 crore for 1,706 tigers in the 12th Plan (2012-17), compared to Rs. 615 crore in the 11th Plan (2007-12) – a nine-fold increase in allocation. For all the other endangered species – including 26,000 elephants, 300 lions in Gujaratand around 16,000-20,000 leopards – the money allocated is just Rs. 3,600 crore.In the 11th Plan, the other animals had received Rs. 800 crore – an amount higher than the allocation for tigers.
Justifying the fund allocation, officials said tigers are flagship species and the money spent on their protection would automatically benefit other animals such as deer and rhinos. Most of the money would be spent on relocating around 10,000 families living in 41 tiger habitats of the country, and filling vacancies of security guards in the reserves.
“Several new thrust areas have been identified for implementation. This includes strengthening protection and furthering the co-existence agenda in buffer areas of tiger reserves, besides voluntary relocation along with regulatory monitoring of tiger population and their habitat,” the 12th Plan document for wildlife says.
While separate funding for elephants under the 11th Plan has been merged with the existing scheme – Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats, there is no mention of Asiatic lions, which are only known to inhabit the Gir National Park in Gujarat.
Similar is the story of snow leopards, whose number is now estimated to be less than 1,000 in upper reaches of Himalayas in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Though the poaching figures of leopards have nearly doubled in the last five years, it is also missing from the Plan document. Not a single endangered bird – such as the great Indian bustard and vulture – finds mention in the 1,600-page Plan document.
Wildlife activists say that as a majority of the endangered animals live outside tiger reserves in 600 protected areas, they fall prey to development and other kinds of biotic pressure.