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Project Tiger under threat in Kaziranga

Guwahati: Implementation of Project Tiger in the Kaziranga National Park has been threatened by protests made by stakeholders of the tourism and hotel industry, but authorities in the world-famous wildlife sanctuary have said they have no reason to worry.

Kaziranga Jeep Safari Association and the Kaziranga Resort Association with support of 20 other organisations had recently sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh demanding withdrawal of Project Tiger from the KNP, arguing it would adversely affect their livelihood.

“We are opposed to the government`s decision to make Kaziranga a tiger reserve in the greater interest of people living in the park`s vicinity as it will have a direct impact on their lives and livelihood,“ said the president of the Kaziranga Jeep Safari Association, Punen Gogoi.

Gogoi said Kaziranga is famous for the One-Horn Rhino and the government should take steps for its protection and conservation.

“We had also welcomed the government`s initiative to conserve tigers under the Project Tiger, but we never supported the move to turn Kaziranga into a tiger reserve as the subsequent restrictions would severely affect tourism and other businesses,“ Gogoi said.

The park`s authorities, however, have clarified that it was a `misconception in the minds of the people due to lack of awareness that has led to this kind of protests`.

Its director, Surajit Dutta, pointed out that the fears were unfounded and that the Project would instead help preserve the habitat and different species there.

Dutta said that the apprehension of the people related with the tourism sector that the hotels and human habitations in the fringe areas would be affected by Project Tiger was unfounded.

“The Project Tiger, like the Elephant Reserve scheme of 2005, would also help in the socio-economic development of the adjoining areas of the park and tourism would grow,“ he said.

He appealed to all concerned to understand the basic fact that the protection of 10 km radius of eco-sensitive zone under Environment Protection Act, 1986, has nothing to do with Project Tiger.

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