Watch out for lion poachers!
Times of India
Sarpanchs Of Gir VillagesTo Be Forest Department's Eyes And Ears
Gandhinagar: With poaching on their minds, the forest department has adopted a give-and-take policy. It has asked village sarpanchs to be vigilant with regards to the movement of outsiders in their villages, in exchange for which it has promised to solve issues that have been pending for long.
Principal secretary, forest and environment, SK Nanda, held a meeting with gram panchayat sarpanchs of 60 villages in the periphery of Gir forest. Nanda said that the five-hour-long meeting saw several issues being sorted out. Nanda said the government has asked sarpanchs to keep a record of farm labourers coming to village.
Also, Nanda said tourist lodges have been told that if any tourist is caught moving in non-sanctuary routes illegally, the owner of the lodge or restaurant would be held responsible and action would also be taken against them.
He said villagers complained that several villages do not have electricity connection. He said these would now be provided solar power. Collector, Junagadh district, Ashwini Kumar, who was also present in meeting was immediately asked to take action.
He said the sarpanchs also complained that they were not given gas connection by government-owned companies. In absence of Indian oil and Bharat Petroleum, they were forced to buy gas at commercial rates from private players. The villagers were assured of gas connections by governmentowned companies and where it was not possible for the administration to get these connections, they would be supplied with kerosene.
Nanda further said that the sarpanchs also demanded compensation for farmers whose crops were damaged by wild boars and other animals. The farmers had been refused compensation and instead, were asked to adopt kheda tree plantation model where they can earn money by growing trees that have commercial value.
The department will also permit them to shoot wild boar, but the panchayat was directed not to have professional shooters for the job. However, sarpanchs did not agree to the idea of shooting the animals.
Forest department has also decided to review the decision of reserving land. The forest department has in the past reserved several plots of land which were in the possession of panchayat as gauchar land, etc. "We will review the decision and wherever possible, it would be reversed," said Nanda.