3

CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES INCLUDING FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE


Index


National Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development

To address the problems of environment and development holistically, the Ministry has enunciated several policy instruments viz., the National Conservation Strategy and the Policy Statement on Environment and Development, 1992, the National Forest Policy, 1988, and the policy statement on Abatement of Pollution, 1992 which take into consideration various cross - sectoral issues having a direct bearing on conservation and sustainable uses of natural resources including forestry and wildlife.

Index

Biosphere Reserves

Biosphere Reserves (BR) contain a set of unique ecosystems identified on the basis of its natural resources-biodiversity, naturalness and effectiveness as a conservation unit to facilitate conservation of India s immense biological diversity which is estimated to be over 47,000 plant species and 81,000 animal species, representing about 7% of the world s flora and 6.5% of world s fauna, respectively.

The programme is a pioneering effort at pursuing the increasingly difficult yet urgent task of conserving ecological diversity under mounting pressures. The emphasis of the programme is on conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variations; promote economic development which is culturally, socially and ecologically sustainable and to provide support for research monitoring, education and information exchange related to local, national and global issues. During the year the Dehang-Debang area of Arunachal Pradesh has been notified as the tenth Biosphere Reserve of the Country.

These ten BRs not only aim to protect representative ecosystems but also serve as laboratories for evolving alternative models of development. Funds continued to be provided to the respective State Governments for conservation and management of these Biosphere Reserves, during the year. Research and development projects were also supported. The details of the BRs set up so far given in Table-2.

Table-2

Present Biosphere Reserves set up in India

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sl      Name of         Date of         Location (State)
No.     the Site        Notification
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1.      Nilgiri         1.8.86          Part of Wynad, Nagarhole, Bandipur and Madumalai, Nilambur, Silent,
                                        Valley and Siruvani Hills (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka)

2.      Nanda Devi      18.1.88         Part of Chamoli, Pithoragarh & Almora 
                                        Districts (Uttar Pradesh)

3.      Nokrek          1.9.88          Part of Garo Hills (Meghalaya)

4.      Manas           14.3.89         Part of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Nalbari, Kamprup and
                                        Darang Districts (Assam)

5.      Sunderbans      29.3.89         Part of delta of Ganges & Brahamaputra river system (West
                                        Bengal)

6.      Gulf of Mannar  18.2.89         Indian Part of Gulf of Mannar between India and
                                        Sri Lanka (Tamil Nadu)

7.      Great Nicobar   6.1.89          Southern most islands of Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands

8.      Similipal       21.6.94         Part of Mayurbhanj district (Orrisa)

9.      Dibru-Saikhowa  28.7.97         Part of Dilbrugarh and Tinsukia Districts (Assam)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Index

Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs

Wetlands

The scheme on conservation of wetlands has been operational since 1987 for framing policy guidelines, identifying wetlands for intensive conservation and management for monitoring and for soliciting or seeking international cooperation. With these broad objective, a National Committee on Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral Reefs was constituted. Based on the recommendations of this Committee from time to time, nineteen wetlands have been identified for conservation and management. Management action plans were made and 100% Central assistance was given for conservation of various wetlands for activities like data collection and survey, identification of problems, wetland mapping, land scape planning, hydrology, control of encroachments, eutrophication abatement, aquatic weed control, wildlife conservation, fisheries development, environmental awareness and research on various aspects of wetlands process and functioning of these eco-systems.

Subsequently in 1993, a National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP) was carved out of the wet land programme to focus on lakes, particularly those located in urban areas which are subjected to pressures of human activities like urbanisation and industrialisation and are getting polluted beyond the point of recovery. On the recommendations of the National Committee, eleven urban lakes were identified under this Programme for conservation and management out of which Bhoj from Madhya Pradesh is already getting assistance from OECF Japan. The pre-feasibility reports in respect of these lakes have been received from the concerned State Governments. When this proposal was put up for CCEA clearance at a total cost of Rs. 637 crore for ten lakes, the Cabinet Committee directed the Ministry to bring up the matter for consideration after a fresh appraisal of the scheme in the light of a firm tie up of external financial assistance for the same. Discussions have therefore been held with the World Bank who have indicated interest in financing the scheme. World Bank has specifically shown interest in financing the conservation of Harike, Kanjli and Ropar and Udaipur and Sambhar wetlands. Modalities are being finalised. A concept paper has also been prepared on the subject.

The first meeting of the reconstituted Research Advisory Committee was held on 6.1.98 followed by the 2nd meeting on 13th October 1998.

A Technical Advisory Committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary (MS) to deal with the management of Loktak lake. This Committee will look after issues related to conservation of Loktak lake and allocation of funds for the same from different funding agencies. The Loktak Management Action Plan also gets assistance from the North East Council, State Government, Tenth Finance Commission and recently from the Indo-Canadian Environment Facility (ICEF).

During the year an amount of Rs. 140 lakhs has been released to the State Govts. for the management action plans of Pongdam in Himachal Pradesh, Wullar in Kashmir, Loktak in Manipur, Rudrasagar in Tripura and Kolleru in Andhra Pradesh.

One more wetland has been identified for conservation viz. Rudrasagar from Tripura increasing the list to twenty wetlands for intensive conservation and management in the country. Ministry has received small grants funds amounting to 40,000 Swiss franks for economic valuation of Harike wetland in Punjab. This project is being implemented by Wetlands International South Asia in collaboration with State Council for Science & Technology, Punjab Govt.

India is a signatory to the convention on wetlands of international importance especially as water fowl habitat generally referred to as Ramsar Convention, 1971. The Convention is an inter- governmental treaty which provides for conservation of wetland habitats. Under the convention, a total of 881 wetlands of international importance, occupying an area of 62.77 million hectares have been designated by 101 contracting parties. India has designated six wetlands, viz; Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur and Sambar (Rajasthan), Chilka (Orissa), Loktak (Manipur), Wullar (J&K) and Harike (Punjab). India participated in the Asian Regional Conference held in Manila during 22-24 December 1998. This will be followed by the Conference of Parties meeting to be held in Costa Rica in May 1999.

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Mangroves

Mangroves are salt tolerant forest ecosystems, found mainly in the tropical and sub-tropical inter- tidal regions of the world. They are reservoirs of a large number of plant and species associated together over a long evolutionary time and exhibiting remarkable capacity for salt tolerance. They stablise the shoreline and act as a bulwark against encroachments by the sea. The rich biological diversity of the mangroves provide sources of livelihood for the people of the area and some mangroves support flourishing apiary industries.

India harbours some of the best mangroves in the world, located in the alluvial deltas of rivers such as the Ganga, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery as well as on the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands. As per the State of Forest Report, 1997 the total area covered by mangroves in India is estimated at about 4,827 sq. km. An overall increase of about 600 sq.kms in the total mangrove area has been reported during 1991-1997.

Taking into consideration, the importance of mangroves, and the conditions in which they grow, the Government of India initiated a scheme on Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs during 1986-87. A National Committee on Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs has been constituted to advise the Government on policy and research related to conservation of these fragile ecosystems. Based on the recommendations of this committee, 15 mangrove and 4 coral reef areas in the country have been identified for intensive conservation and management purposes. The main activities under the scheme include implementation of Management Action Plans and promotion of Research.

State level steering committees have been constituted to prepare and oversee the implementation of Management Action Plans for the identified mangrove/coral reef areas. Financial assistance is extended to the respective State Governments/UTs for implementation of Management Action Plans. During 1998-99, Management Action Plans for the following mangrove areas have been considered by the Ministry.

A Review workshop and a meeting of the Reconstituted National Committee on Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral reefs were held at the Centre of Advanced. Study in Marine Biology, Annamalai University, Parangipettai during 23-24 September 1998. The Committee has recommended the establishment of a Network of Mangrove Information and Data Base Centres along the East and West Coast of India. The proposal is under active consideration of the Ministy.

Index

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Coral Reefs

Coral Reefs are shallow-water tropical marine ecosystems, characterised by a remarkably high biomass production and rich faunal and floral diversity. The structure of a reef is formed by calcareous skeleton which houses the coral, a type of soft bodied radially symmetrical marine invertebrate belonging to phylum Coelenterata. Millions of coral skeletons cemented together over a period of time ranging from a few thousands to millions of years result in the formation of coral reefs, which are of three types :

The major reef formations in India are restricted to the Gulf of Manner, Palk Bay, Gulf of Kutch, A&N and Lakshadweep islands. While the Lakshadweep reefs are atolls, the other reefs are all of fringing type. Patchy coral is present in the inter-tidal areas of the Central West Coast of the country.

Taking into consideration the importance of coral reefs and the factors responsible for their deterioration, following areas in the country have been identified for conservation and management :

The National Committee on Conservation and Management of Mangroves and Coral Reefs during its meeting held on 23-24 September 1998 has recommended the establishment of an Indian Coral Reef Monitoring Network (ICRMN) to develop and implement Monitoring Action Plands for the identified coral reef areas of the country. The main activities cover survey and monitoring of the state of health of coral reefs, training and capacity building in the areas of Scubadiving, Systematic and Taxonomy, Pollution Assessment, application of Remote Sensing and GIS Techniques besides research activities. Ministry has identified the implementing agencies and collaborating institutions and Monitoring Action Plans for all the identified areas as submitted by the concerned States/UTs are being implemented. Establishment of a Data base Network on Coral Reefs is under active consideration.

The Ministry with financial assistance from UNDP/GEF has implemented a PDF-B Project on Strengthening of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve. The project implemented by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), Chennai has completed its tenure and the final report is awaited.

Another UNDP/GEF PDF-B project on management of coral reef ecosystem in Andamans, to be implemented by Zoological Survey of India, Port Blair has been initiated recently. Meetings of the Steering committee and a Project initiation workshop were held at Port Blair on 23rd November,1998.

Index

Biodiversity Conservation

In order to ensure coordination among various agencies dealing with issues relating to conservation of biodiversity, and to review, monitor and evolve adequate policy instruments for the same, the scheme on Biodiversity Conservation was launched in 1991-92. India is also a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which came into force in December 1993.

Pursuant to the ratification of the CBD by India on 18th February, 1994 several steps have been intiated to meet the commitments under the convention, and to realize the opportunities offered by the Convention. These efforts aim at bringing the legislative, administrative and policy regimes in tune with the three-fold objectives of the Convention.

Activities of this scheme during the year are as follows :

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National Action Plan

The number of stakeholders in biological diversity is large. These include Central Government, State/Union territory Governments/Administrators, institutions of local self government, scientific and technical institutions, experts and academicians, academic institutions, industry in particular pharmaceutical and drug industry, NGOs, practitioners of indigenous systems of medicines, local people and ethnic tribes and so on. It is a multidisciplinary subject involving diverse sectoral activities and actions. Adopting a consultative process with the stakeholders, a draft National Policy and Action Strategy on Biological Diversity has been drawn up as a macro- level statement of strategies, gaps and further actions needed for conservation, sustainable use and strategies and realisation of actual and potential value of biological diversity. Emphasising the need for conservation and analysing the provisions of the convention, the draft National Policy identifies the basic goals and thrust areas and outlines action points for various subjects.

Index

Legislation

Work pertaining to legislation on biodiversity was continued. Draft outline of biodiversity legislation was sent to all State Governments/Union Territories, NGOs universities, industry and experts to elicit their views. A National level meeting to discuss the draft was held on 5.8.98 under the chairmanship of the Minister for Environment and Forests. Comments received were anlaysed and the draft revised. A meeting of a small group of experts to discuss the revised draft was held on 27.10.98 under the chairmanship of Minister(E&F). Further action for finalising the legislation is under way.

Index

Biosafety Protocol

The interministerial Task Force on Biosafety set up for developing India s stand in the international negotiations for a protocol on biosafety, continued its work during the year. Several meetings of the Task Force were held for working out India s position for the fourth and fifth meetings of Ad-hoc Working Group. India s strategy for the Extended Bureau meeting has been prepared. India s position for the sixth and the last meeting of the Working group is being prepared.

Index

Capacity Building on Taxonomy

Having identified critically important areas and gaps in taxonomic work, an all India Co- ordinated Project has been drawn up for Capacity building in taxonomy.

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First National Report

An interim report highlighting the measures undertaken for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity was submitted to the Convention Secretariat in May 1998. Thereafter, the interim report was revised and printed. The Report was released by Minister (E&F)on 29th December 1998 on the occasion of International Day for Biodiversity.

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Combating Desertification

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is to prevent and control desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification (particularly in Africa), through effective actions at all levels, supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements in an integrated manner to achieve sustainable development as outlined in Agenda 21. The Convention was adopted on 17th June 1994 and entered into force on 26th December 1996. The Convention came into effect in India on 17th March, 1997. So far, more than 144 countries have adopted/ratified the Convention.

The Ministry is the nodal agency for implementation of the Convention. During the year, India participated in two international meetings, held to discuss the Thematic Programme Networking (TPN) on the six areas identified for regional cooperation amongst Asian countries, namely :

TPN-1     Desertification Monitoring & Assessment

TPN-2     Agro-forestry Management & Soil Conservation in arid, semi-arid & dry subhumid areas.

TPN-3     Range & pasture management in arid areas with particular emphasis in controlling
          shifting sand dunes.

TPN-4     Water Resources Management for agriculture in arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid areas.

TPN-5     Drought Preparedness & Mitigation in the context of climate change.

TPN-6     Strengthening planning capacities for drought management & Controlling desertification.

China is the focal point for Desertification Monitoring and Assessment (TPN-1). India is the focal point for thematic programme area-2 (TPN-2) on Agroforestry and Soil Conservation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. Iran has been identified as the focal point for thematic programme area-3 on Rangeland Management (TPN-3). The first meeting was held in Tehran during October 5-7, 1998 to discuss TPN 3 on Rangeland and Pasture management . The second meeting was the International Expert Group Meeting held at Bangkok, Thailand from November 10-13, 1998.

India participated in the Second Session of the Conference of Parties (COP) held at Dakar, Senegal from November 30- December 11, 1998. The TPN under the Regional Asian Programme (RAP) as also the conclusions of the International Expert Group meeting of the RAP, held in Bangkok during November 10-13, 1998 were discussed in detail with donor agencies/countries. The TPN-2 is expected to begin in 1999 subject to availability of funds.

A roster of Experts has been prepared to work under the Committee on Science and Technology (CST), a subsidiary body of the Convention. A list of thirty-seven Indian experts from various R&D institutions in the country working on dryland areas has been accepted and included in the roster. It was decided that the CST should focus on programmes on benchmarks and indicators on desertification and drought and build on national/local capacities to develop and use indicators. COP-2 recommended that Parties initiate testing of impact indicators. A ten-member Ad-hoc Panel on Traditional Knowledge has been constitiuted to function under the CST during 1998-99. A representative of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has been included as a member. The Conference noted that the Global Mechanism to mobilise and channel financial resources to affected developing country Parties did not begin operating as on 1.1.1998.

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Assistance to Botanic Gardens

This scheme was initiated during 1991-92 to promote ex-situ conservation and propagation of rare plant genetic resources in different regions of the country through a network of botanic gardens. Under this scheme an one-time, non-recurring financial assistance is provided to botanic gardens for strengthening their existing infrastructural facilities to facilitate conservation and propagation of rare and endangered endemic plant species of the region.

The Botanical Survey of India has prepared a list of endangered plants in different phyto geographic regions of the country and an Expert Group constitiuted by this Ministry examines the proposals received from various institutions, universities and State Government/UTs for assistance under this scheme. Till March, 98, sixty botanical gardens in the country were provided financial support under the scheme. During the year 98-99, twelve botanical gardens are expected to be provided financial support.

Index

Forest Conservation

Implementation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

For diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose prior approval of the Central Government is necessary under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The enactment of Act has led to decrease in the rate of diversion of forest lands which has come down to around 25,000 ha. per annum from around 1,43,000 ha. per annum before 1980.

During 1998, 766 fresh proposals for forestry clearance were received from various State and UT Governments. A total of 854 proposals including those received previously were decided as under:

Total approved (stage II) :             365

Total approved in principle (stage-1)   346

Rejected on merit                       143

Total                                   854

Steps for streamlining the guidelines for forest clearance of development projects : Ministry had constituted an expert group under the chairmanship of Sh. C.D. Pandeya, Ex-IGF for streamlining and simplifying the rules and guidelines framed under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The report of the expert group has been processed and circulated to all the states for their comments. It is proposed to issue the revised guidelines immediately on receipt of the comments.

With the objective of cutting short the delay in processing of proposals for forest clearance certain revised guidelines have been issued by the Ministry as per which all proposals for development projects will be submitted to the Ministry s Regional offices for processing directly by the State Governments. This will help in reducing the time taken for correspondence between Ministry and States.

Special fund for compensatory afforestation and Forest Conservation Board : To streamline the process of compensatory afforestation in the States, it is under active consideration of the Ministry to create a "special fund" in the Ministry to which the project authority seeking forest clearance will deposit the cost of afforestation. This fund will be released to the State Forest Department on the pattern of Central Sector Afforestation Schemes. To handle this fund as well as the forest clearances, creation of a Forest Conservation Board is also under active consideration.

Constitution of an Expert Committee for development of a long term strategy on forest conservation vis--vis mining activities : This is a multidisciplinary committee comprising of members from forestry, environment, and mining sectors besides NGOs and Institutions from the concerned fields. The report of the Committee is in final stages and will be helpful in striking a balance between forest conservation and development activities like mining of mineral resources in future.

Constitution of a high level Committee on Jhudpi Jungle areas in Maharashtra : This committee has been constituted recently on the long pending demand of Maharastra to sort out the problems of Jhudpi Jungle areas in Vidhraba region for their future management for the purpose of conservation as well as development.

Index

National workshop on Environment and Forestry

A National workshop on Environment and Forestry in Mining areas was held on 21-22 August, 1998 at Jaipur. The workshop was organised jointly by Federation of Indian Mineral Industries and Ministry of Environment and Forests. The workshop was inaugrated by Minister (E&F). The objective of the workshop was to have a dialogue between regulatory authorities and mining industry and large number of issues pertaining to environment and forests and their relationship with mining were deliberated upon.

Index

Regional offices of the Ministry-Monitoring of projects approved under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

The primary functions of the Regional Offices of the Ministry are to monitor and evaluate the ongoing forestry projects and schemes with specific emphasis on conservation of forests and to follow-up on the implementation of conditions and safeguards laid down by the Ministry while granting environmental clearance to development projects. The Regional Chief Conservator of Forests are empowered to decide cases on diversion of forest land for non-forestry purposes upto the extent of 5 ha. except mining and regularisation of encroachments. They have also been empowered to examine cases involving forest land between 5 ha. in consultation with the State Advisory Group.

There are six Regional Offices functioning at Bangalore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Shillong, and Chandigarh. The seventh Regional Office at Ranchi was created and steps are being taken to make it functional. Action has also been initated to create two more Regional offices at Nagpur and Jaipur.

Details of the Regional Offices and their jurisdictions are given in Annexure-II

Regional-wise targets for monitoring of cases under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 for the year 1998-99 and their achievements are given in Table-3.

Table-3

Statement Showing Region-wise Physical/Financial Targets and Achievements for Monitoring cases Under FCA 1980 and EPA 1986 for the Year 1998-99

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Regional             Physical                                                                                   Financial
Offices         FCA (No. of Cases)      EPA(No. of Cases)       Site         No.of Cases    No.of Cases     Target    Achievement
                Target    Achivement    Target    Achievement   Inspection   approved       approved 
                                                                Under FCA    Under FCA      (Rs. In Lakhs)
                                                                Below 5ha.   5ha.-20ha
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bangalore       185          180          75           71          15            -               -           43.05        40.81
Bhopal          185           92          75           53          26           49              48           46.70        35.30
Bhubaneswar     185           95          85          117          23           18              15           45.30        39.32
Lucknow         185          115          90           81          11           85              22           45.85        42.68
Shillong        120           12          40           12          10           09               -           35.55        37.26
Chandigarh       90           19          35           19           -            -               -           21.70        24.65
RO (HQ)   Administrative Co-ordinating Unit in the Ministry                      -               -           79.05        62.49
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total           950          513         400          355           85         161               85         325.00       282.51
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Index

Forest Legislation

The Indian Forest Act (IFA), 1927, regulate laws relating to forest produce. Subsequently, several amendments to the Act were made and some of the States have promulgated their own Forest Act. After the adoption of the National Forest Policy 1988, it was proposed to consolidate all amendments done by the States from time to time and update the IFA 1927, so that it is in conformity with the provisions of the NFP, 1988.

The Drafting Committee constituted by the Ministry in 1989 for the amendment of the IFA 1927 submitted the proposed amendments in 1990. It was circulated to all States and UTs and to voluntary organisations for comments and suggestion, which were received by September 1995. The proposed amendments alongwith the provisions of the existing Act, opinion of the Expert Committee and the suggestion of NGO s their justification and remarks were compiled for seeking a final view in the matter. The Ministry constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of IGF to review all the comments and suggestions and recommended its view for the final draft. The Committee s first meeting was held in January 1997 and last in January 1999. The Committee has considered and discussed the views of the Expert Committee and NGO s at length, based on which, the final draft has been submitted for approval on 15th January, 1999.

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Association of Scheduled Tribe and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests on Usufruct Sharing Basis

In pursuance of the National Forest Policy (NFP)1988 a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme entitled Association of Scheduled Tribe and Rural Poor in Regeneration of Degraded Forests on Usufruct Sharing Basis was started in VIIIth plan to involve the local people in rehabilitation of degraded forests in tribal dominant areas. Besides improving the forest cover of degraded forests, the scheme also aims at providing wage employment and usufructs to the tribal people.

The specific objectives of the scheme are :

The scheme is under implementation in nine States namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka, Orrisa, Rajasthan, and West Bengal on the basis of projects prepared by them. The total outlay of Rs. 735 lakhs for this scheme during the 8th Five Year Plan has been fully utilised. The target for regeneration was10550 ha. During the plan period 8330 ha. degraded forests were rehabilitated and another 2240 ha. area was covered during 1997-98 as spill over works.

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Joint Forest Management

The NFP, 1988 envisages peoples involvement in the development and protection of forests to fulfil the objectives of providing fuelwood, fodder and small timber to local communities as well as to develop the forests for improving the environment.

In order to implement the policy prescription, the Ministry issued guidelines on 1.6.90 to involve the village communities in the development and protection of degraded forests on the basis of their taking a share of the usufructs from such areas. The concept of Joint Forest Management (JFM) was accordingly initiated and endorsed to all States and Union Territories for oprationalising the same by developing appropriate mechanisms. Twentyone States have issued their resolutions for JFM as per reports from the States up to September 1998, about 7 million ha. of degraded forests in the country are being managed and protected through approximately 35,000 village Forest Protection Committees.

A JFM Monitoring Cell of the Ministry has been created to assess the impact of JFM programme on the protection and development of forests. To ensure effective monitoring of JFM activities in the country and to guide the Government, a JFM Standing Committee under the Chairmanship of eminent scientist Dr. T.N. Khossoo has been set up. The first meeting of the Committee was held on 8.12.1998.

Index

Modern Forest Fire Control Methods

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme Introduction of Modern Forest Fire Control Methods launched during the 8th Five Year Plan, continued to be implemented.

The objectives of the scheme are as follows:

Under this scheme, 100% central assistance is provided to the State for the following items :

This scheme is being implemented in eleven states of the country viz Bihar, Kerala, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Orissa, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh and during Ninth Five Year Plan, it is proposed to extend this scheme to five other states viz. Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir and Rajasthan. In the central sector, it is proposed to close down the Air operation Wing of this Ministry and include the various activities such as monitoring of impact of forest fire prevention scheme, research and extension activities on forest fire, data collection and its analysis and assistance to village committees for forest fire prevention under Joint Forest Management Programme.

Index

Wildlife Conservation

The activities to implement the National Wildlife Action Plan were continued during the year. The major activities during the year are as follows :

Index

Protected Area Network

The network of protected areas now comprises 84 National Parks and 447 Wildlife Sanctuaries covering about 1.50 lakh sq. kms. area. This network is spread over all the biogeographic zones of the country including Himalayan, peninsular, marine, estuarine, riverine, mangroves and desert ecosystems.

Index

Wildlife Institute of India

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) organised three courses and 46 officers and students were trained during the year. Efforts to build-up professional skills in Protected Area Management through training of professional managers for protected areas through training of professional cadre in all aspects of wildlife were continued at the WII. A number of research projects have been started and some projects have been completed and reports published. (More details of the WII are given under Chapters 7 and 8).

Index

Control of Illegal Trade

Effective measures were taken for control of illegal trade in wildlife and its products at national and international level, both through the States/UTs as well as Regional Offices of Wildlife Preservation under this Ministry. Greater interaction with paramilitary forces and other law enforcement agencies is being maintained. Union Home Ministry has also given direction to render help in control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.

During the year, Special Coordination and Enforcement Committee for strengthening measures for control of poaching and illegal trade in wildlife under the Chairmanship of Secretary (E&F) with Special Secretary (Ministry of Home Affairs), Chairman (Central Board of Excise and Customs, Ministry of Finance), Director (CBI) and Addl. Inspector General Wildlife as Member Secretary was constituted. The first meeting of the Committee was held on 15.10.98

Index

Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Revision

In order to make implementation of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 more effective, a committee was set up to review the Act. The Committee has submitted its report which was circulated to all the State/UT Governments and Ministries of Central government for their comments. The comments from State/UT Governments and concerned ministries have been received and are being reviewed. Further action will be taken in consultation with the Ministry of Law.

Index

Indian Board for Wildlife (IBWL)

The IBWL is the apex advisory body in the field of Wildlife Conservation in the country and is headed by the Honourable Prime Minister of India. A meeting of the Standing Committee of IBWL was held on 27.10.98 under the Chairmanship of Minister. As per the recommendations of the Standing Committee of IBWL, a committee was constituted to go into the contentious issue of trapping and trade in birds and has submitted its report. Five Regional Task Forces for rationalisation of boundaries of protected areas have also been constituted. Follow up action on the recommendations of these meetings has been initiated.

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Fellowships/Awards

Two fellowship/awards namely Dr. Salim Ali and Shri Kailash Sankhla Fellowship have been instituted by the Ministry for giving recognition to eminent officers and field workers for exemplary services tender by them in the field of Wildlife Conservation and Research. A proposal for instituting an Award in the name of Amrita Devi Vishnoi to the village communities for showing valour and courage in protection of wildlife has been approved.

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Awareness Generation

Wildlife Week was celebrated from 2nd to 8th October 1998 all over the country. The Minister (E&F) delivered a message to the Nation on doordarshan on the occasion. Various functions for generating awareness about wildlife conservation were held by the State/UT Governments. During the week, essay competitions, debates, clay modeling , free trips to national parks and sanctuaries, drawing competitions etc. were organised. A function was organised at the National Zoological Park, Delhi wherein two elephants were gifted by Ambassador of Zimbabwe to the Honourable Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Government of India. On the occasion, Prime Minister s message was released and circulated to all the State/UTs.

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Enforcement of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Import Export Policy

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the provisions f the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Export and Import/Policy of India were continued to be enforced through the offices of the Regional Deputy Directors of Wildlife Preservation located at Delhi. Mumbai, Calcutta and Chennai with the help of State Wildlife Departments, the State Police Departments, the Customs Departments, BSF and Coast-Guards. Several cases of poaching of illegal trade in wildlife products were discovered by the Regional Dy. Directors during the year.

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Development of National Parks and Sanctuaries

Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, financial assistance for development of National Parks and Sanctuaries was provided to 28 National Parks and 107 Sanctuaries in 23 States and UTs during the year. Hundred percent assistance was provided on selected items of non-recurring nature to both National Parks and Sanctuaries and fifty percent assistance was provided to recurring items in case of some National Parks. Emergency assistance of Rs.58 lakhs has been released to Kaziranga National Park in Assam which was devasted by floods. Funds have been released for diversion of the State Highway that passes through Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary as a safeguard against the animals being knocked down by the fast moving vehicles. Central assistance was provided for construction of a wall at Corbett National park to mitigate man- animal conflict.

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Eco development in and around National Parks and Sanctuaries

Assistance was provided to the States for taking up programmes of eco-development around national parks and sanctuaries including tiger reserves in order to achieve ecologically sustainable economic development of these areas and to reduce the biotic pressure on protected areas for ecosystem conservation. During the current year, financial assistance was provided to 12 national parks and 40 wildlife sanctuaries. Five Protected Areas were identified for intensive eco-development to ensure that there is substantial impact.

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Project Turtle

Considering the threat to marine turtles found in the Indian coastal areas, an Expert Committee has been Constituted to look into various aspects of sea turtle conservation and suggest ways and means for their protection. Two meetings of the Committee were held in this direction. A dialogue has also been initiated with UNDP to secure funds for marine turtle conservation.

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National Wildlife Action Plan Committee

The Ministry has set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Sh. B.G. Deshmukh, Retd. Cabinet Secretary and President, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai to review the National Wildlife Action Plan (1983) and the recommendations of various Committees on wildlife such as Dr. Subramaniam Committee, Sh. J.J. Dutta Committee, the recommendation of the Working Group of the IX Plan and to review the progress of implementation of the directives of the Hon ble Supreme Court and Delhi High Court. This Committee has been constituted to prepare an action plan for wildlife sector covering the next 20-25 years time period. Three meetings of this Committee have been held so far.

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Seminars and Trainings

A national seminar on Wildlife Conservation to commemorate 50th year of India s independence was held at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. A training programme on Intelligence gathering and Crime Prevention was organised at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad.

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Siberian Crane Experiment

India is a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) concerning the Conservation of Siberian Cranes. The action plan for the conservation of the species adopted by all range states is being implemented.

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Project Tiger

Project Tiger was launched on April 1, 1973 on the basis of the recommendations of a special task-force of the Indian Board of Wildlife with the following main objectives :

Initially 9 Tiger Reserves were created. Presently there are 25 Tiger Reserves spread over in 14 states and covering an area of about 33,875 sq. kms. During 1998-99 two new Tiger Reserves were created in Karnataka and Mahrashtra respectively. Area and locational details of various Tiger Reserves is given in Table-4.

Table-4

List of Project Tiger areas in India

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Sl.     Year of     Name of Tiger Reserve       State               Total Area
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1.      1973-74     Bandipur                    Karnataka               866
2.      1973-74     Corbett                     Uttar Pradesh           1316
3.      1973-74     Kanha                       Madhya Pradesh          1945
4.      1973-74     Manas                       Assam                   2840
5.      1973-74     Melghat                     Maharastra              1677
6.      1973-74     Palamau                     Bihar                   1026
7.      1973-74     Ranthambhore                Rajasthan               1334
8.      1973-74     Similipal                   Orrisa                  2750
9.      1973-74     Sunderbans                  West Bengal             2585
10.     1978-79     Periyar                     Kerala                   777
11.     1978-79     Sariska                     Rajasthan                866
12.     1982-83     Buxa                        West Bengal              759
13.     1982-83     Indravati                   Madhya Pradesh          2799
14.     1982-83     Nagarjunsagar               Andhra Pradesh          3568
15.     1982-83     Namdapha                    Arunachal Pradesh       1985
16.     1987-88     Dudhwa                      Uttar Pradesh            811
17.     1988-89     Kalakad-Mundanthrurai       Tamil Nadu               800
18.     1989-90     Valmik                      Bihar                    840
19.     1992-93     Pench                       Madhya Pradesh           758
20.     1993-94     Tadoba-Andheri              Maharashtra              620
21.     1993-94     Bandhavgarh                 Madhya Pradesh          1162
22.     1994-95     Panna                       Madhya Pradesh           542
23.     1994-95     Dampha                      Mizoram                  500
24.     1998-99     Bhadra                      Karnataka                492
25.     1998-99     Pench                       Mahrashtra               257
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Project Tiger is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme. The States receive 100% financial assistance for non-recurring items and 50% of financial assistance for approved recurring items. For 1998-99 an amount of Rs.17.00 crores has been allocated under the scheme. An amount of Rs.893.13 lakh has been released to the various Tiger Range States by the end of December, 1998.

Eco-development Scheme in and around National Parks & Sanctuaries including Tiger Reserves

An amount of Rs.8.00 crores has been approved for the year 1998-99 under the scheme for National Parks, Sanctuaries and Tiger Reserves. The share for 25 Tiger Reserves is Rs. 2.85 crores. An amount of Rs.115.40 lakh has been released to the States till December, 1998.

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Beneficiary Oriented Scheme for Tribal Development

An amount of Rs.4.50 crores has been kept aside under the scheme for 1998-99 out of which Rs.3.00 crores has been released (till Dec 1998) to M.P for relocation of tribal families outside Kuno Palpur Sanctuary.

India Eco-development Project

Until December 1998 an amount of Rs. 10.86 crores has been released to the Project States against the revised budget allocation of Rs. 43.58 crores.

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Research and Monitoring under bio-diversity Conservation of Forestry Research, Education and Extension (FREE) Project

Total budget allocation for 1998-99 is Rs. 1.23 crores out of which Rs. 58.63 lakhs by way of consultancy charges for research to W.I.I., Dehradun and IIPA, Delhi has been utilised till Dec. 1998.

A national workshop on 25 years of Project Tiger was organised from 19.11.98 to 21.11.98 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. Minister (E&F) was the Chief Guest.

Ministers from State Governments, some Member of Parliaments (MPs), Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCFs), Chief Wildlife Wardens, Field Directors of Tiger Reserves, Forest Secretaries of state governments, NGO s, former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Mr. J.S. Verma, some Advocates, Forest Officers etc. were present in the sessions. The following issues were discussed during the workshop.

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Project Elephant

In order to assist states having free ranging populations of wild elephants to ensure long term survival of identified viable populations of elephants in their natural habitats, Project Elephant was launched in Feburary 1992. States are being given financial as well as technical and scientific assistance in achieving the objectives of the Project. The location of elephant reserves and state-wise population of elephants are given in Table-5 and Table-6 respectively.

Table-5

Location of elephant reserves with approximate area (in sq.kms) and elephant population

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S.No.   Location of the Reserve                                         Area         Population
                                                                      (sq.km.)     (approximately)
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1.      South-West Bengal, South-East Bihar to Orissa                   8,365           3,000
2.      Kameng in Arunachal Pradesh to Sonitpur in Assam                7,500           1,580
3.      Dibru in Assam to Deomali in Arunachal Pradesh                  5,000           1,800
4.      Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong in Assam to Intanki in Nagaland         4,500           1,800
5.      Barail in Assam to Saifung in Meghalaya                         1,500             150
6.      Balphakaram and adjoining areas in Meghalaya                    1,800           2,500
7.      Nilgiri and Eastern Ghats in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka  11,500           5,000
8.      Nilambur-Silent Valley in Kerala to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu    2,500             600
9.      Anamalai in Tamil Nadu and Parambikulam in Kerala               3,000           1,500
10.     Periyar in Kerala to Madurai in Tamil Nadu                      3,000           1,700
11.     Rajaji to Corbett in Uttar Pradesh                              8,000             750
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Table-6

State-wise Population of Elephants

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State                           Minimum                 Maximum
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Andhra Prdesh                      46                      46
Arunachal Pradesh               2,000                   3,000
Assam                           5,000                   6,000
Bihar                             500                     600
Karnataka                       5,000                   6,000
Kerala                          3,000                   4,000
Meghalaya                       2,500                   3,000
Orissa                          1,500                   2,000
Tamil Nadu                      2,300                   2,500
Uttar Pradesh                     750                   1,000
West Bengal                       200                     200
Nagaland
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Total                          22,796                  28,346
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Mean                                       25,571
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Main Activities of Project Elephant

During the year 1998-99 an amount of Rs.4.50 crores was allocated to the elephant range states to provide for habitat manangment, management of man-elephant conflict, Payment of ex-gratia relief for loss of life, strengthening of anti-poaching measures, capture and translocation of problem elephant populations etc. Permission was given to capture three problem elephants in order to reduce man-elephant conflict in West Bengal. An amount of Rs. 72.83 lakhs was provided to the elephant range states to strengthen their antipoaching and anti-depradation activities. The project intends to intensify its management activities during 1999-2000.

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Central Zoo Authority

Central Zoo Authority (CZA) continued its efforts for improving the image of the zoos of the country and on upgrading the facilities for housing, upkeep and health care and displaying animals in the zoo. Imparting skills on proper upkeep, health care and breeding of endangered species is an important activity of CZA. The activities of the CZA during the year were as follows :

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National Zoological Park, New Delhi

The National Zoological Park was set up in 1955 with the object to conserve and breed rare and endangered animals and to educate the people about preservation of wildlife. The zoo houses a number of endangered and rare species of wild animals. The park continued its activities to achieve the objectives of conservation, education and research. The various activities of the National Zoological Park during the year were as follows:-

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Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling

This Zoological Park in Darjeeling, an autonomous organisation of State Government of West Bengal houses and breeds a number of endangered and rare species of wild animals and birds of the Himalayan region. The park continued its activities including research on the behaviour and breeding biology of the fauna of the Himalayan region and provided visitors an opportunity to learn about the high altitude fauna and flora. The important activities carried out by the Park during the year are as follows :-

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