Jairam Ramesh withdraws guidelines violating FRA

Fresh guidelines for creating Critical wildlife Habitat to be prepared in consultation with Tribal Affairs ministry

By Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava
Published: Friday 04 March 2011

The Ministry of Environment and Forests has withdrawn its latest guidelines for creating inviolate space for wildlife. The guidelines for creating Critical wildlife Habitat (CWH), issued on February 7, violated the Forest Rights Act, 2006, and threatened the interests of the forest dwellers (see:  ‘Misguided rules’).

The ministry also asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to draft a fresh set of guidelines for declaring the Tiger Reserves in the country.

On March 4, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh held a consultative meeting with the non-profits working for tribal rights and with wildlife activists and experts along with the chief wildlife wardens of the states to review the latest guidelines. The ministry was under fire for issuing guidelines that did not follow the criteria and procedure for declaring CWH given in FRA. Ramesh said the ministry will prepare a fresh draft of guidelines for CWH by April end which will be in consonance with FRA.

The draft will be put for the public consultation. The earlier guidelines were prepared by the wildlife wing of the ministry without any consultation with any other department. Even the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the nodal agency for FRA, was not consulted. Ramesh said the new draft will be prepared in consultation with state governments and the tribal affairs ministry.

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While the only objective of the guidelines withdrawn seemed to be relocating people from the areas identified as Critical Wildlife Habitat, the objective of the new guidelines will be to conserve the ecology of such areas, he said.

The minister also directed NTCA to draft guidelines for declaring the Tiger Reserves and “implementation protocol” for relocating people from Critical Tiger Habitats in two weeks.

Recently there have been massive protests in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam (see: 'Kaziranga simmers on fringes') and the BRT wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka against the two being declared Tiger Reserves. The minister said the tiger reserves should be declared in a way that such incidents do not repeat.

“Implementation protocol” for relocating people from Critical Tiger Habitats should have a strong monitoring mechanism to ensure that people are not evicted illegally and relocations conform to FRA. The environment ministry has faced criticism for illegal eviction of people from Tiger Reserves.

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