Home Ministry rejects CRPF model for Special Tiger Protection Force

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New Delhi, Sep 28 (UNI) The process of creation of the Special Tiger Protection force has reached an advanced stage, but the Home Ministry has shot down the idea of establishing it on the CRPF model as originally mooted.

''It has now been decided to model the tiger protection force on the pattern of the India Reserve Batallion pattern, which would not require creation of a separate paraphernalia at the Centre,'' an official in the Ministry told UNI.

Moreover, if the force had been created on the CRPF model, it would have required promulgation of an ordinance till Parliament approved the proposal.

He said a meeting in connection with the issue would be held in the Capital tomorrow, in which senior officers of the Home and other ministries besides the Ministry of Environment and Forests, would discuss various aspect, of the creation of the new force which would be deployed in the Tiger Reserves and placed at the disposal of state governments.

''While the funds required for the maintenance of the force would be given by the Centre, it is the states which would create and maintain the force,'' he said.

The force has been necessitated in view of the continued threat of poaching of the big cat for trade which transchends national borders.

The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau recently seized 20 kg tiger bones and a large number of traps from Gurgaon with the help of the local police. Further investigation into the matter indicated that poachers were very much active, and their network went beyond the country.

Most of the tiger body parts are supplied to China for medicines, which has a large market in that country.

Besides poaching, tiger-human conflict due to the increasing encroachment on the habitat of the wildlife is also a leading cause of the killing of tigers.

The decision to set up the force was taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year after the latest tiger census showed that the population of the big cat in the country had plunged by half since 2000 due to various reasons.

According to a survey conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the current tiger population was estimated to be just 1300-1500, down from 3,642 tigers in 2001-02 when the last study was done by the institute. It was found then that there were 1,576 tigers in reserves, and 2,066 in the forest outside the protected areas.

The WII study, which had covered 17 Indian states with tiger populations, had found that there was a marginal decline in tiger population in reserves and protected areas, but in forest areas outside the reserves, the population registered a sharp fall.

The report said the protection status in these reserves was not adequate due to various reasons like paucity of staff, ageing of staff and lack of modernisation and funds.

For the proposed tiger protection force, services of the ex-army personnel would be sought. They will be helped by a native workforce.

After the WII census report, the Centre has been making efforts to place Indian Police Service officers as head of the Wildlife Crime Bureau, and for the time now the Bureau is being headed by IPS Reena Mitra.

WCB officials say having an adequate enforcement machinery in place was a massive task and will take sometime before the Bureau plays the role expected of it.

UNI NAZ ATI RK1100

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