Nagpur: Even after three months of notification, the 270 km² Kanhargaon Wildlife Sanctuary in the Central Chanda Forest Division remains only on paper. The sanctuary was notified on April 5, 2021, after several hassles, obviously to create more space for tigers and limit human-animal conflicts.
The decision was made by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray during the State Wildlife Board meeting on December 4, 2020 to give leeway to the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM ) to continue logging operations. The final notification was released on April 5.
Of the 270 km², nearly 252 km² included in the sanctuary belonged to the FDCM while 18 km² were part of the central forest division of Chanda. The sanctuary is still under the administrative control of the FDCM.
Although logging operations have ceased and the trading company has transported felled timber, the understaffing and non-compensation of the forest area lost for the construction of the sanctuary appears to be the bone of contention.
NR Praveen, Chief Conservator of Chandrapur Forests (CCF), said: “Although staff reorganization is a problem, things are getting better. We have no choice but to keep possession of the sanctuary with FDCM right now or there will be a void. We have no surplus staff as we have already diverted the 18 surplus rangers from Chandrapur to Tadoba and the Bamboo Research Training Center (BRTC).
Kanhargaon needs at least 3 RFOs, 6 foresters and 30 rangers. “The reorganization proposal is pending with the state government. We also signed a memorandum of understanding with the NGO Sevak, based in Pune, an association of retired forest officers, to prepare the Kanhargaon management plan. Preparation of the plan is underway, ”Praveen said. The NGO was paid Rs 3.5 lakh to prepare the management plan.
Kishor Rithe, a member of the state board on wildlife, who played a key role in the formation of the sanctuary, said: “Do not cede administrative control to the wildlife wing going to the defeats the very purpose of declaring Kanhargaon a sanctuary, which is a stepping stone for tigers. It calls for the immediate intervention of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who made the bold decision to declare it a sanctuary on December 4 last year.
Although FDCM’s acting regional director Kushagra Pathak did not respond to calls from TOI, sources said the company wanted a 286 km² forest reserve area instead of the lost area for the sanctuary. Of this, 30 km² lie in the Dhaba and Kothari ranges under Central Chanda. However, Central Chanda refused to part with the area in question because 96% of its logging income comes from here.
On April 5, Thackeray held a review meeting with the FDCM in which he asked the company to turn waste and barren land into green areas. The FDCM demanded more than 250 km² (25,000 hectares) of productive forest in the Allapalli division in Gadchiroli instead of the area ceded to Kanhargaon. The FDCM also demanded the absorption of the van majors of the region. No decision has yet been made.
A LONG WAY TO TRAVEL
* In April 2013, the initial proposal consisted of 370 km²
* The proposal included an area of 58 km² of the Kothari Range in central Chanda and an area of 312 km² of FDCM
* Amid opposition, a truncated 265 km² proposal was sent to the government on June 21, 2014
* On December 5, 2018, ex-CM Devendra Fadnavis agreed in principle to declare it a sanctuary but this never materialized due to opposition within
* Uddhav Thackeray finally authorized the 269 km² proposal in December 2020
* TATR key link to Kanhargaon, Chapralai, Kawal and Tipeshwar
* A compact block and dispersed population of Tadoba make the region rich in tigers
* A natural habitat for many wild animals
* Besides tigers, other wild animals include leopard, jungle cat, jackal, fox, deer, sambar, barking deer, blue bull, wild boar, sloth bear, dogs savages and gaurs