New plan to move Maldharis out of Gir
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik
Centre And State Government Clear Proposal; Forest Department Awaits FundsThe state forest department has decided to shift more than 400 Maldhari families staying in Gir sanctuary limits.
The move is part of a new plan which aims to reduce conflicts between villagers and lions that prey on their livestock.
The department will also shift 800 other families residing at Jambutala village. These families were moved earlier from the forest and brought to the village to resettle.
The plans are part of the Rs 262 crore Brihad Gir (Greater Gir) project aimed at lions' conservation. It will include, apart from shifting Maldharis, developing new sanctuaries in the Sasan-Bhavnagar stretch, where also the big cats are found these days. The rehabilitation of the Maldharis alone will cost Rs 179 crore.
The 2010 lion census revealed that lions have now found homes in Amreli, Junagadh and Bhavnagar districts. Forest officials said that according to the plan, each family relocated outside the sanctuary will get Rs 10 lakh as compensation.
Generations of Maldharis have been living inside the Gir forest and have consistently refuted state government's proposals to relocate them starting 1972. However, the government has worked out a compensation package which may be acceptable to them, said the forests officials.
The officials found that with the big cats moving out of the protected area, there was a threat to the Maldharis' lives. Also, an increase in livestock numbers had increased the pressure on the ecosystem within the sanctuary.
Gujarat's principal secretary for forest and environment SK Nanda told TOI that the Centre and state government had cleared the proposal and the department is now waiting for the money.
The plans are part of the Rs 262 crore Brihad Gir project aimed at lions’ conservation