NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY
NEW ORIGINAL IDEA & CONCEPT NOTE © SANDEEP SILAS
Date: August 20, 2016
BACKGROUNDER & JUSTIFICATION
It is the August of 2016 today!
On Sunday 9th August 2009, the Times of India had carried a full page Special Report titled:
TAKE A GOOD LOOK
THIS MAY BE THE LAST TIME YOU SEE A TIGER
END OF THE TALE?
- 1,300 AND GOING DOWN
- 7 Reserves on alert
- 0 tigers in Panna
- 35 tigers disappeared from Sariska
Not much has happened since then to save the tiger except setting up of an expert group, which deliberated and recommended, but tigers keep on disappearing.
What we need is a practical approach to the issue, a workable proposition and an institutional framework that works!
Project Tiger was started by late Smt. Indira Gandhi, then Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, as her vision to save the tiger and also to promote Wildlife Tourism.
Tigers totally disappeared again in Panna after Sariska, which was a most alarming fact. Last time the news filtered in about Sariska, the then Hon’ble Prime Minister had publicly expressed concern over the vanishing tigers from National Parks. The Government reacted by constituting a Task Force. The Task Force came up with certain recommendations but, tigers still keep vanishing.
The exact number of tigers as per the last tiger census was 3,500 but this is done by the ‘pug mark method’ and the real number probably would be anybody’s guess. The letter of the then Chief Minister of Rajasthan to the then Hon’ble Prime Minister in case of Sariska was indicative of the lack of will at the State level to save the magnificent Indian tiger from the menace of poachers and manage the National Parks to promote Wildlife Tourism. Similar is the case in other States.
The State Government’s reply, as the Press had then reported, was routine and non-committal. The situation in other National Parks of the country is also disturbing. Often the tourists, especially foreign visitors, go back disappointed after having heard so much of the famous Indian Tiger, spent so much money in planning logistic arrangements, hotel arrangements and fee to visit the park. Most of the times, the forest guards who accompany the group in an open jeep inside the park show visitors only the pugmarks of the tiger. Such disappointments are having their toll on visitors and thereby resulting in loss of tourism earnings and that expenditure which is done locally by the tourists and goes to small hotels/ restaurants/operators/shops/guides etc.
Forests are on the Concurrent List (Item 17. Prevention to Cruelty to Animals. 17A. Forests & 17B. Protection of Wild Animals and Birds), which makes it easier to handle the problem.
To create a body titled, NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY at the national level with the under-mentioned terms of reference and responsibility areas it will help not only the Indian tiger but also promote India as a Wildlife Tourism destination.
To create a brand- WILDLIFE INDIA
A detailed Bill to be prepared and later an Act passed by the Parliament to create this unique body. It shall be a feather in the cap of the Government for nowhere in the world has anybody thought of such an idea to integrate the National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves in a dual bid to preserve wildlife, flora and fauna and also to promote wildlife tourism.
We must intervene now before it is too late. Task Forces’ will not be able to give a solution as they think in a straight line and nobody indulges in ‘out of the box’ thinking. One has to think at the national level and propose a workable practical solution. It is time for a systemic change and laying down a workable process.
We apply dressing to a wound when it is raw. What I am proposing is like invasive surgery, but at the moment it is in the best interest of the country.
My idea and concept can be made subject of a national debate if required and if it stands its test, it may then be accepted and implemented by the Government of India.
FORMATION OF NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY
- Create a NATIONAL PARKS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY.
- The NPMA shall be provided budget allocation from the Central Budget.
- All National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserves in different States of India be brought under umbrella of the Authority for management and policing.
- Raise a special police force under the name of ‘Wildlife Protection Force’, which will police all the National Parks on the pattern on CISF, and be responsible for safeguarding the flora and fauna.
- The officers and staff of the NPMA shall be trained in environment conservation and recognition of flora and fauna apart from policing training.
- the Wildlife Protection Force shall have powers to prosecute for offences committed within their jurisdiction.
- A Wildlife Protection Force Act will require to be drafted to provide the legal framework for this special force.
- The earnings from the National Parks shall be utilized for the upkeep of the parks.
- The Force will also regulate the entry and exit of visitors to the parks and be responsible for patrolling inside the parks.
- Proper coordination at the Central Authority level for publicity purposes, booking arrangements and publishing of relevant brochures, books, other literature etc. would help in branding and marketing of ‘Wildlife India’.
- The Authority shall become a central body for co-ordination with all relevant Central Ministries and State Governments.
The advantages from setting up of such an Authority will be tremendous in the following respects: –
- The management and protection of wildlife, which is at present as per the present level of commitment of a State Government will be standardized and be uniform.
- Wildlife shall actually be saved.
- Job opportunities shall be created.
- A discipline will be enforced throughout the country in the National Parks.
- A uniform ticketing system will be in the interest of visitors and the Authority. This will save visitors from being cheated by touts and harassed by locals who do not following any standard pricing system for organizing jeep / elephant rides inside the parks.
- Information to visitors on the available flora and fauna inside the particular park shall be available in a systematic manner apart from books and other literature.
- Branding of tourism product ‘WILDLIFE INDIA’ shall become possible.
- Consumer satisfaction index shall go up.
- Concern for protection of wildlife shall be felt at the national level and by people individually.
- The communication within the park and in between the parks will become possible for the benefit of Management Authority and visitors both.
- Information on other parks and its peculiar flora and fauna shall also be available to visitors in each park thereby prompting their visit to other parks.
- Vested interest of one set of officials and their linkages with poachers will not be able to develop, as it now exists, as the officers/officials will move to another park on transfer.
- Government will be seen to be keen to protect wildlife and the magnificent tiger.
- Railway and Airline tickets, plus reservation in Park Hotels all over the country, when available inside each Park will have a direct bearing on increase of time period a tourist stays in India thereby increasing tourism receipts.
- Cabinet Note for approval to be prepared by Ministry of Environment & Forests
- Bill for enactment of the National Parks Management Authority to be drafted by MOEF.
© Sandeep Silas