Mar 26, 2015
PILIBHIT: Government departments have joined hands with a wildlife NGO to ensure that poor villagers living close to the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve no longer depend on jungle wood for cooking food. The move is aimed at bringing down the cases of mass illegal felling which is affecting the ecological balance of the tiger reserve. The district administration will work along side the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve authorities, officials of Nabard (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) and WWF India (Worldwide Fund for Nature) for the unique project under which LPG connections will be provided at subsidized rates to villagers living below poverty line (BPL). While a certain amount has been waived off for BPL families, the Nabard will arrange loans for the rest from nationalized banks so that villagers can buy LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) connections at rates of interest as low as 4%. The WWF and the staff of PTR (Pilibhit Tiger Reserve) will identify villagers who could apply for LPG connections. Before the notification of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, the forest department had formulated a policy to permit villagers living in the proximity of the forest area to collect different kinds of forest produce like dry and fallen branches of trees and grass. This was aimed at helping the poor so that they could easily use the wood for cooking and for thatching their huts and constructing sheds for their domestic animals. However, villagers in large numbers started going deep into the jungle on a daily basis without any checks. This led to increased illegal felling in every range area of Pilibhit district’s forest, severely affecting the ecological balance of the park, said Amitabh Agnihotri, the vice president of Wildlife Biodiversity Conservation Society. He added that the project to reduce dependence on jungle wood would be a step in the right direction to stop the large-scale illegal felling.
Pilibhit DM Om Narayan Singh told TOI that there are around 275 villages situated near the forest area. He added that a list of villagers living below poverty line has been sent by the revenue department to the PTR authorities and they have been directed to identify those villagers who desire to take LPG connections. Singh also went on to add that under the assigned policy of the government, the security amount of Rs 1,400 for gas cylinder and the pressure regulator would be waived for BPL villagers and Nabard would help in arranging loans for BPL families for the remaining Rs 3,900 which includes burner, gas and other accessories. The success of the project would depend on convincing more and more villagers to replace fire wood with LPG for cooking, he added. Singh also said that APL families would also be able to get LPG connections even in the absence of dealers in the region. Meanwhile, Nabard district manager A K Rawat said he has presented a proposal to the DM on providing financial support to villagers to buy LPG connections through nationalized banks which has been approved by him in principal. He said under the DRI (differential rate of interest) scheme of Reserve bank of India, poor villagers having maximum annual income to the tune of Rs 19,000 per annum can be facilitated with loans up to Rs 15,000 simply on 4% rate of interest. The nationalized banks would provide financial assistance to villagers to buy LPG under DRI scheme which also has a very easy repayment plan. Rawat said that Nabard would need tShe support of the revenue department for the verification of annual income level of the villagers to ensure their eligibility under DRI scheme for which a request has been filed with the DM. Naresh Kumar, the project manager of WWF (India) said the basic idea of providing the villagers, living in vicinity of forest belts, with LPG was first introduced by the WWF when TAL (Tarai Arc Land) project was launched in the forests of Pilibhit in 2000-2001. He added that WWF has distributed 500 LPG connections to villagers without any classification of BPL or APL and a fresh process of distributing another 500 connections was in progress. He said as per the current price of LPG connection, including the security amount, cost of gas, LPG burner and accessories comes to nearly Rs 5,300, of which WWF would provide flat subsidy to consumer at the rate of Rs 1,500 per connection.
As as posted in Timesofindia.Indiatimes.com