Project Tiger under threat in Kaziranga

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Durba Ghosh

Guwahati, Feb 16 (PTI) Implementation of Project Tigerin the Kaziranga National Park has been threatened by protestsmade by stakeholders of the tourism and hotel industry, butauthorities in the world-famous wildlife sanctuary have saidthey have no reason to worry.

Kaziranga Jeep Safari Association and the KazirangaResort Association with support of 20 other organisations hadrecently sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singhand Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh demandingwithdrawal of Project Tiger from the KNP, arguing it wouldadversely affect their livelihood.

''''We are opposed to the government''s decision to makeKaziranga a tiger reserve in the greater interest of peopleliving in the park''s vicinity as it will have a direct impacton their lives and livelihood,'''' said the president of theKaziranga Jeep Safari Association, Punen Gogoi.

Gogoi said Kaziranga is famous for the One-Horn Rhino andthe government should take steps for its protection andconservation.

''''We had also welcomed the government''s initiative toconserve tigers under the Project Tiger, but we neversupported the move to turn Kaziranga into a tiger reserve asthe subsequent restrictions would severely affect tourism andother businesses,'''' Gogoi said.

The park''s authorities, however, have clarified that itwas a ''misconception in the minds of the people due to lack ofawareness that has led to this kind of protests''.

Its director, Surajit Dutta, pointed out that the fearswere unfounded and that the Project would instead helppreserve the habitat and different species there.

Dutta said that the apprehension of the people related withthe tourism sector that the hotels and human habitations inthe fringe areas would be affected by Project Tiger wasunfounded.

''''The Project Tiger, like the Elephant Reserve schemeof 2005, would also help in the socio-economic development ofthe adjoining areas of the park and tourism would grow,'''' hesaid.

He appealed to all concerned to understand the basicfact that the protection of 10 km radius of eco-sensitive zoneunder Environment Protection Act, 1986, has nothing to do withProject Tiger. .

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