The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has withdrawn its latest guidelines for creating inviolate space for wildlife. The decision to withdraw the critical wildlife habitat (CWH) guidelines followed a March 4 meeting between environment minister Jairam Ramesh, non-profits working on tribal rights, wildlife activists and the chief wildlife wardens of states.
The ministry was under fire because the guidelines issued on February 7 did not follow the criteria and procedure for declaring CWH provided in the Forest Rights Act (FRA) of 2006 and threatened the interests of forest dwellers (see ‘Misguided rules’, Down To Earth, March 15, 2011). Ramesh said the ministry will prepare a fresh draft by April-end which will be in consonance with FRA. The new guidelines will be finalised after public consultations.
While the objective of the guidelines withdrawn seemed to be relocating people from CWH, the aim of the new guidelines will be to conserve the ecology of such areas, Ramesh said. He also directed National Tiger Conservation Authority to draft new guidelines for declaring tiger reserves and ‘implementation protocol’ for relocating people from critical tiger habitats in two weeks.
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