Forest dept's plan for pact with NGO not on

Forest dept's plan for pact with NGO not on

The controversial memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was to be signed between the Forest department and the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) to undertake research and capacity building has been rejected by the State government.

The proposal, which was submitted by Ullas Karanth, the CWS director, six months ago to the department came to the light over the last two days because of the series of controversies it had triggered.

Speaking to Deccan Herald on Tuesday, Forest minister Ramanath Rai said, “The proposal came to my table and I rejected it. We (the department) have sufficient resources, technology and capability to work. We do not need to depend on any organisation. I, as minister, oppose the idea.”

While conservationists heave a sigh of relief, they feel that such MoUs should not be taken up as that may lead to dominance and monopoly over the Forest department.
Madan Gopal, additional chief secretary to the department of forests, said that the proposal was made long ago, but movement of the file was delayed. There are many NGOs and civil societies which are working on wildlife. A research plan will be prepared and then interested organisations can apply. Based on qualification and capabilities, research works will be handed over. But this is in the future. The government has rejected this MoU purely because there are many organisations doing similar work, and some points of the MoU are not suitable. The rejection has nothing personal with WCS or Karanth.

Vinay Luthra, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said that he was unaware of the draft MoU details as it was submitted six months ago and he was not the PCCF then. Karanth said that CWS was not the only organisation which had mooted such a proposal and there were many others.

He said, “We have been working with the department since 1990s and have a track record of world-class scientific research on tigers and other large mammals since 1986. This was just another MoU.” The idea was to strengthen the department’s capacity through a public-private partnership model and provide training, Karanth said. CWS does not want funds from the department for any of the projects.

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