Govt plans lucrative package to forest dwellers

Having failed to convince forest dwellers to move out of Karnataka’s Tiger Reserves, the State Forest department has decided to make the compensation package more lucrative.

Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara said that the department had decided to increase the amount of the compensation under Project Tiger from Rs 10 lakh per family to Rs 20 lakh per family. The decision was taken at a review meeting Yogeeshwara held with his officials on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters here, Yogeeshwara said repeated attempts from the department to convince forest dwellers from the six Tiger Reserves in the State had failed, and that an increase in the compensation amount might encourage the affected people to voluntarily accept the relocation package.

The minister said that the department had successfully shifted all families from within the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. There were around 154 families in the reserve and all of them have been shifted. But the department is finding it difficult to convince people in Anshi-Dandeli Tiger Reserve and Kudremukh Tiger Reserve to relocate, he said.

Yogeeshwara said Nagarahole had 1,054 families, of which 496 families had volunteered to shift, while around 400 families among the 736 families in Bhadra had already moved out. Anshi-Dandeli had around 4,114 families, of which around 350 families had agreed to relocate, he said.

He said the Kudremukh National Park, which was yet to be declared as a Tiger Reserve, has been notified and that there were around 1,382 families and all of them required to be shifted.

Yogeeshwara also said the department had decided to employ villagers living on the fringes of forest areas to help monitor the forests during summer, ensuring that there aren’t any incidents of fire.

Earlier this year, around 2,000 hectares of forest in Nagarhole and Bandipur had been destroyed in fire. Inquiries revealed that the forests were set afire intentionally by trouble makers. Also, it was ascertained that villagers who were not employed by the department to patrol the forests were not hired.

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