While the State Board for Wildlife is required to meet at least twice a year as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Mumbai: According to an audit on the management of existing tiger reserves in Maharashtra, the state had failed to prevent tiger deaths by electrocution and road accidents by allowing railway lines and highways through their habitat, revealed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
The audit highlighted that while infrastructure critical to the protection of tiger habitat was inadequate, unregulated tourism, particularly at the Tadoba tiger reserve, was also a major cause for concern.
The audit carried out for the period 2012-18 indicated that apex-level interventions for enabling policy decisions and major initiatives for the protection and conservation of tigers were inadequate.
The audit also revealed that tiger conservation plans, which played a significant role in finalising management strategy for 10 years, were not being formulated or being formulated with delays.
“Presence of human settlements and tourist facilities in core tiger habitats caused disturbances to wildlife and also reduced available inviolate space. The buffer area was fragmented owing to a large number of villages, farmlands, highways and railway lines resulting in animal deaths. High-tension electric lines passing through tiger reserves were not insulated,” read the CAG report.
While the State Board for Wildlife is required to meet at least twice a year as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the audit found that during 2012-2018, the board met only once a year except in 2015 and 2016, while no meeting was held in 2017.
The report also said that the state had been ineffective in declaring important tiger areas as ecologically sensitive zones as there had been encroachment by commercial hotels and resorts within 1km of protected areas. At the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR), 15 resorts and homestays had emerged after 2015.
“Further, 16 homestays/resorts were developed prior to 2013 near the core boundary of TATR without obtaining permission from competent authorities,” the report read.
“Commercial activities caused hindrance to the free movement of animals up to the water source (Irai Dam backwater, which is a water source of the TATR) and also possible incidents of man-animal conflict in this area could not be ruled out,” the report further read.