Vidarbha may soon become the tiger capital

Nagpur: Maharashtra`s Vidarbha region, which has several tiger projects and wild life sanctuaries in close proximity is fast shaping up as the potential Tiger Capital of the country.

Former Union Minister and Nagpur MP Vilas Muttemwar, who wrested the initiative in this direction has approached all the top ministers at the State and Central level to push for the tiger capital project.

According to him, since Tadoba Tiger project is situated about 160 kms from the city and Bor sanctuary (about 90 kms), Navegaon and Nagzira wild life sanctuaries (about 150 kms) are located in Vidarbha, besides the Kanha National Park in neighbouring Seoni district (about 200 kms from Nagpur), the region can be well-developed as the tiger capital.

More than 250 tigers out of total population of 1,400 in the country inhabit in the Vidarbha region.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has liked the concept and agreed to take up the issue with Centre. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Tourism Minister Subodh Kant Sahai and Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh, have also evinced interest in the project.

Last week, Muttemwar wrote to the PM who has acknowledged the concept. Ramesh went a step ahead and said the Government of India has decided to open three regional offices of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with the first expected to be opened in Nagpur next month.

"The regional office of NTCA would take forward the work of tiger conservation in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh which are very important tiger habitats where close to 40 percent of India`s tiger population reside," Ramesh said recently in a communication to Muttemwar.

Ramesh further said the Centre is in touch with Maharashtra government to notify two more tiger reserves in the state in Nagzira/Navegaon and Bor.

Also, it is taking many measures to protect the Tadoba-Andhari habitat in Chandrapur district, he said.

Sahai in a communication last Friday told Muttemwar that Vidarbha has got all the potential to develop as a wild and adventure tourism destination.

The region could also attract productive investments besides creating employment opportunities, he said.

Muttemwar said about 80 million tourists visit India and a majority of them are interesting in seeing the wild cat roaming freely in the jungles. If they can be attracted to Vidarbha with good infrastructure like accommodation, transport and tourist guides and other facilities, a good amount of revenue from tourism can be earned here.

There can be employment opportunities for about 20,000 to 30,000 youth in various support staff like drivers for tourists vehicles, guides, hotel staff and travel and tourism agencies operating here, he said.

The MP said a two-day conference on tiger project capital is being organised in early April and said both Central ministers along with Chavan and Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam are being invited alongwith stake holders to discuss threadbare the project.