Even as the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has sent in a joint-team to extend support to tackle wildfire raging in the State, a drastic reduction in Central funds has badly affected key operations in Similipal and Satkosia tiger reserves (TRs) of the State.
Sources said there has been a substantial decline in allocation to two TRs. More than 40 per cent fund has been slashed for Similipal and Satkosia which impacted protection activities. Hundreds of forest protection squad members, known as protection assistants (PAs) were laid off due to shortage of funds which has severely affected forest protection and fire management programmes this year.
The Standing Committee of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in its report presented in Rajya Sabha on March 8 pointed out that MoEF&CC’s budget allocation was reduced by Rs 1,085 crore at the revised estimate (RE) stage due to Covid-19 pandemic which affected various programmes and schemes.
From a Rs 300 crore budget estimate in 2020-21 for the flagship Project Tiger, the revised estimate saw allocation drop by 35 per cent to Rs 195 crore. The actual expenditure by January-end was Rs 179.83 crore. For 2021-22, the budgetary estimate stands at Rs 250 crore.
The whole article was published by New Indian Express on March 12, 2021.