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Glitch in tiger funds flow

- Kaziranga happy to get Rs 1cr one-time grant though

Guwahati, Oct. 11: The Assam forest department had raised the issue of direct transfer of funds from National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) for Kaziranga, but there seems to be no guarantee that it would happen because of a technical glitch at the Centre.

“We had raised the issue in our presentation with the NTCA officials yesterday but the latter had cited problems in direct transfer of funds from the Centre to a foundation,” chief wildlife warden, Assam, Suresh Chand, told this correspondent.

Though Kaziranga park authorities are happy for getting Rs 1 crore as special time grant for the foundation from the NTCA and has requested for Rs 100 crore more for its long-term development, the park still does not get funds directly from the NTCA despite the setting up of a tiger conservation foundation because of some glitches at the central level.

One of the main aims of setting up a tiger conservation foundation was direct transfer of funds to the park level, but it never happened as the ministry later realised that funds cannot be transferred directly to a foundation. Not only Kaziranga, but the two other tiger reserves in the state are also facing the same problem though tiger conservation foundations have been set up.

Funds coming from the Centre to the parks go via the state government and often take much time to reach the park which leads to problems. In many instances, money reaches at the fag end of the financial year making it difficult to utilise the assistance.

Chand said the special one time grant of Rs 1 crore would reach the park directly from the NTCA within a week’s time.

Even the IUCN and the World Heritage Centre while discussing the issue of Manas had raised the issue of direct funding.

The IUCN in its progress report on Manas stated that the Government of India had informed them that direct funds flow from it to the Manas tiger conservation foundation would become operational by 2011-12.

“It regrets that this appears to have been delayed, and notes that the IUCN has received reports that slow fund release continues to be a problem for the management of the property. They consider that the approval for direct release of funds from the central government to Manas Tiger Conservation Foundation remains a crucial step to help address this issue,” the report said.

The official said the department had requested the NTCA to provide Rs 100 crore as non-lapsable grant to the national park for long-term development. “It has to be non-lapsable so that the state can use the funds till the time its objectives are met,” he said. One of the requests to the NTCA was funding of 200 trained forest guards and foresters to help in effective monitoring of the park.