Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Updated: Mar 27, 2017, 11.44 AM IST
NAGPUR: In a move that will hit tiger conservation hard, the Ramtek sub-divisional officer (SDO) has allowed fishing rights in Totladoh reservoir, inside Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR), to Wadamba (Rayatwari) village, which is on the fringes of the park. Wildlife experts have slammed the move, claiming Wadamba villagers are only labourers settled there after Totladoh dam construction ended, and do not have any traditional claims on the region.
The SDO's decision has also come in for sharp criticism from the forest department. As reported many times earlier, fishermen from nearby villages already illegally enter the reserve, move through core tiger habitat, and are involved in all sorts of illegal activities like lighting forest fires, attacking patrolling staff with weapons, poaching wild animals etc.
"Allowing fishing rights inside a reserve will hit tigers, whose numbers have started looking up in Pench and its buffer zone," said Kishor Rithe, member, state board for wildlife board (SBWL). According last year's official figures, there are 32-34 tigers in Pench and its buffer zone.
As per the SDO's report, 425 Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (OTFDs) from Wadamba approved community forest rights (CFR) proposal in gram sabha in July 2010 for fishing in Totladoh under Forest Rights Act (FRA) 2006.
The proposal was submitted to sub-divisional level committee (SDLC) for approval. Of the 425 claimants, 115 are STs while remaining 310 are OTFDs. After several objections, claims, counter-claims and hearings, the SDO agreed that fishermen can be granted CFR in 11 reserve forest compartments, which are currently under water inside the tiger reserve.
However, their rights on forest produce, grazing etc on area surrounding the reservoir were rejected. The SDO's report has been submitted recently to the district collector, who is chairman of district level committee on forest rights.
In a representation to district collector Sachin Kurve, Rithe has pointed out that these villagers were basically labourers, who have continued to stay on in Pench even after Totladoh dam work was completed in 1990.
These villagers had moved the high court against their evacuation by the forest department. In 2002, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had rejected their claim and directed them to be removed from Pench. These encroachers were resettled at Wadamba by the administration in 2002.
"When these encroachers were denied any fishing rights by the high court in Totladoh, how can the same encroachers get fishing rights in Wadamba. I have urged the collector not to approve CFR inside tiger reserve," Rithe said.
"Even chief wildlife warden Shree Bhagwan opposed the move to grant fishing rights inside reserve. Pench has been declared a critical tiger habitat (CTH) and allowing fishing in a CTH will set a wrong precedent. It is also against SC directives," Pench CCF and field director Rishikesh Ranjan said.
The SDO seems to have also over-ruled the forest department contention that even the Supreme Court order issued on March 5, 1997, does not allow any rights inside the reserve. The villagers argue that the SC order was issued in 1997 and FRA came in 2006, and hence the court order is not applicable.
However, Prafulla Bhamburkar, Central India adviser for Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), countered the villagers' claims by saying that when the irrigation department quarters inside Pench are being vacated to make the tiger reserve inviolate, how can people be allowed inside.
"Moreover, the 11 compartments under water sought by the villagers for fishing have not been denotified yet, and their status continues to be reserve forest," Bhamburkar adds.
TNN | Mar 22, 2017, 06.11 AM IST
Nagpur: On the occasion of World Forestry Day on Tuesday, a book titled 'Hirwa Sangharsh' (Green Fight), penned by wildlife conservationist and Satpuda Foundation president Kishor Rithe, was released at a function held in Mumbai.
Earlier, his book on moods of forests (Ranavanache Moods) had won accolades from all circles. 'Hirwa Sangharsh' has been published by Arun Jakhade of Padmagandha, a well-known publishing firm from Pune. The book was released at the sixth floor of mantralaya by Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mallick, additional chief secretary Praveen Pardeshi and creator of Satyamev Jayate Satyajit Bhatkal. Mallik praised Rithe and said the book would go a long way in conservation of forests. Pardeshi also spoke on the occasion.
Among those present were principal secretary (forests) Vikas Kharge, noted poets Ashok Naigaonkar and Shyam Madhav Dhond,
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) director Deepak Apte, environmentalist Bittu Sahgal, senior government officials and others.
Talking to TOI, Rithe said, 'Hirwa Sangharsh' is an effort to find solutions to forest conservation and how it should be. It motivates people to launch a green fight to save our forests. Call it problems of forested villages or efforts to save forest by way of various schemes, every chapter in the book motivates the reader to launch a green fight to save nature," Rithe said.
The book sheds light on how there is a need to change the political system which is on a spree to ruin forests, water, farmlands and coal. "However, while highlighting problems, an attempt has also been made to find solution to every problem," said Rithe.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | Updated: Mar 15, 2017, 06.46 AM IST
NAGPUR: The three-day rigorous joint patrolling by forest officials and representatives from different NGOs in tiger reserves and territorial areas has paid off. Not single poaching incident was reported during Holi. Community hunting by tribals on Holi has been a tradition in forest villages. Stringent legal provisions ensured that there were no poaching reports during last three-day when patrolling started.
"Holi patrolling has curbed the practice and it is the result of enforcement. But I think this should become a regular feature around periphery of protected areas, especially foot patrolling," says Kishor Rithe, president of Satpuda Foundation.
There was a massive deployment of staff, including special tiger protection force (STPF) in Melghat, Pench, Tadoba and Navegaon-Nagzira tiger reserves landscape. Individual NGO members were also a part of the exercise.
There was heavy patrolling in Pench and Mansinghdeo buffer. The areas are vulnerable to poaching by armed men from neighbouring Madhya Pradesh. Guards, divisional forest officers (DFOs) and volunteers were part of the drive. The drive entirely focused on the neighbouring state. Barring a couple of forest fires in Nagalwadi range, the exercise passed off peacefully.
However, the drive also called for better coordination between territorial and wildlife officials, especially in tiger-bearing ranges like Khapa and Nagalwadi. A tiger killed at least four cows in last two days in these areas but territorial officials did not deploy camera traps. They took belated cognisance of these incidents.
Territorial patrolling staff admitted that such tiger bearing compartments adjoining wildlife should be handed over to wildlife.
Buoyed by the success, NNTR has extended a 24x7 patrolling module till March 15. "We have formed small STPF groups of 4 individuals which will be accompanied by 2 members of regular staff.
All available vehicles and officers will be part of it," said Ravikiran Govekar, conservator (CF) & field director of NNTR.
TNN | 3 March 2017 - IST
Satpuda Foundation celebrated World Wildlife Day today in Pench Tiger Reserve. Dilip Manjrekar, community officer, organized a classroom lecture for students of Zilla Parishad Upper Primary School, Ghoti and inform students the importance of the day. During the lecture, Dilip informed students that during the 1970s India saw a steep rise in poaching of wildlife which pushed many species on a brink to extinction. It was due to the timely intervention of the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi which helped in carving out Tiger Reserves in India by launching Project Tiger.
Dilip further added that these tiger reserves now harbour a myriad variety of biodiversity of flora and fauna. He informed the kids that now it is our duty as responsible citizens to ensure that these wilderness areas are conserved thus providing undisturbed habitat to various species. It is for this reason that we celebrate this day to remind us of this duty.
TNN | 22 Feb 2017-09.46AM IST
NAGPUR:Nagpur: Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati district will turn 43 on Wednesday. It was one of the 9 tiger projects declared in 1973 in the country and the largest reserve in Maharashtra.
Spread in 2,768.52 sqkm, the reserve boasts of having natural habitat in hilly terrain for over 60 tigers, including cubs. Besides, leopards, number of predators, herbivores, peacocks and birds are in abundance.
Vijay Pinjarkar | TNN | 10 Feb 2017-09.30AM IST
NAGPUR:In a move that will spell doom for tigers, the National Board for Wildlife(NBWL), the top decision making body on projects falling in and around protected areas (PAs), has cleared diversion of 160.94 hectare forest area of Wan sanctuary inside Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) for upgradation of metre gauge railway line.
The railways has taken up work on Akola-Khandwa (176km) gauge conversion work between vulnerable Akot-Amlakhurd railway stations under South Central Railway (SCR). It involves diversion of 160.94 ha forest area of Wan and cuts the reserve towards southern tip.
The issue had figured in April 5, 2016 meeting of state board for wildlife (SBWL) in which, owing to opposition from a section of members, it was decided to form a panel to conduct site inspection. The state's chief wildlife warden has already recommended the project with certain mitigation measures.
Of the 176km railway line, over 38km passes through wildlife rich area of tiger reserve and buffer zone. Yet, the upgradation was recommended as there was tremendous pressure from the MoEFCC to clear the project at any cost.
On May 9-10, 2016, a five-member expert panel conducted detailed assessment with regard to feasibility of the project, vis-a-vis tiger dispersal, habitat connectivity for genetic exchange, protection threat at present and after the project impact by NTCA.The project is going to cause permanent damage to wildlife and tigers, that migrate till Muktainagar in Jalgaon and beyond. However, the railways is of view that alternative route will involve felling of thousands of trees and would lead to cost escalation by several times. No mention is made by what amount the cost will escalate.Sources said, when NBWL meeting was held on January 3, environment minister was not ready to listen anything against the project. Hence, the Standing Committee of NBWL recommended it subject to mitigation measures.
On the contrary, ex-member of NBWL Kishor Rithe, who was member of the joint inspection panel, had suggested an alternate alignment in the same report where PCCF (wildlife) had suggested mitigation measures further, if alignment is not possible. Later, Rithe, in his representation to railway minister Suresh Prabhu on June 9, had said that work between Amalakhurd-Akot (77. 5km) passes through hilly part of MTR. "If the railways follow the same alignment and gradient, it will not allow to attain the speed more than 60 kmph and also won't connect maximum villages from Akola-Amravati and Buldhana districts. Considering both the aspects, people in this region as well as MTR administration had demanded diversion of this line through plain area to maximize benefits," said Rithe.
Kishor Rithe, Member of Maharashtra State Wildlife Board and former member of Standing Committee of National Board For Wildlife, welcomed the directives of the court, saying , "Their orders have sent a message among masses that wild animals are not the substance of delicacy and enjoyment. Conservation of lesser known species is equally important," he said. Elaborating its numerous negative impacts on wildlife, Rithe stated that present line passes through core area and has caused deaths of many wild animals and reptiles, especially during monsoon and winter. There are several incidents of using this train route for illegally transporting forest produce and wildlife derivatives from the reserve. Earlier, PK Srivastava, the then GM of SCR, had conducted a detailed inspection of this line on May 29, 2014, and had suggested alternative route from outside sanctuary area. Accordingly, an alternate route bypassing sanctuary was planned but due to political interference the plan was killed. "The change to broad gauge is bound to increase traffic and disturbance in the reserve. This would certainly result in increase in animal kills and increase in trafficking of wildlife," says Pushp Jain, director, EIA Resource and Response Centre.
29 Oct 2016, Mumbai
10 Oct 2016, New Delhi
26 Sep 2016, Nagpur
16 Sep 2016, Mumbai
1 Sep 2016, Nagpur
29 Jul 2016, Nagpur
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