India to ban human habitation near tiger reserves

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Bangalore, June 11 (ANI): Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh has said that human habitation near tiger reserves would be completely banned.

"There is a core area, which is called an inviolate area where there will be no human habitation - that is the new policy. There will be an outer core, a buffer, in which there will be some man-animal interaction. We are moving towards a situation where there will be an inviolate core. Badhra is the first such model at a working level that we have in our country," said Ramesh.

Ramesh said that the move would lead to the relocation of 100,000 tribal families who would be given a compensation of one million rupees each. He said money would not be a constraint in implementing the policy.

"The Prime Minister and the Planning Commission has assured us that funds would not be a constraint in implementing the relocation plan under 'Project Tiger," he said.

There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago.

A government census report published in 2007 said the tiger population has fallen to 1,411, down from 3,642 in 2002, largely due to dwindling habitat and poaching.

A special panel set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in 2006 that thousands of poor villagers inside India's tiger reserves would have to be relocated to protect the endangered animals from poachers and smugglers. Some experts have put the number at around 300,000.

Poachers and smugglers exploit the grinding poverty of forest villagers to keep them on their side.

Authorities have tried educating the villagers, handing out monetary incentives and drafting them as informants. (ANI)

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