Govt’s focus on increasing forest cover: Union Minister
New Delhi: The focus of the government is on increasing the tree and forest cover not just quantitatively but qualitatively as well, Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said on Wednesday while reiterating that people’s participation and awareness are crucial to manage flora and fauna in the country.
Speaking at the launch of ‘Jumbos on the Edge: The Future of Elephant Conservation in India’, a book by Indian Forest Service Officer Sanjeev Kumar Chadha, Yadav said the environment ministry has initiated the verification of elephant corridors.
“Elephant is our national heritage. Happy to share that the ministry recently initiated the verification exercise of elephant corridors and is also working on mapping land use and land cover of elephant reserves in the country using GIS technology which will also aid conservation, the minister said while speaking about the measures taken by the Project Elephant division.
The book launch was also attended by Union Minister for Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan.
Tweeting about the launch, the environment minister said he highlighted how Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has changed the conversation about conservation and that India is conscious about protecting ecology.”
Human-elephant conflict is a major conservation concern in elephant range states in India and emerged as one of the most challenging problems for elephant management and conservation in recent times.
It refers to the negative interaction between people and elephants, leading to a negative impact on people or their resources such as human death and injury, crop damage, loss of property, apart from affecting their emotional well-being, and on the elephants or their habitats.
Yadav congratulated the author for having spent a lifetime in the forests across India and bringing his learning and research together in the form of a book.
Chadha is currently serving as Managing Director of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED).
Pradhan recollected incidents of human-elephant conflict from his native state of Odisha and said that the case studies and the suggestions brought forward in the book will help all stakeholders.
Indian Elephant (Elephas Maximus) is a keystone species and an integral component of ecosystems playing a crucial role in maintaining forest ecosystem and biodiversity.
“It has been recognised as a National Heritage Animal of India and the highest degree of protection has been given under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972). India has the largest population of Asian Elephants with 30,000 wild and about 3600 captive elephants, the ministry of environment said.
The ministry has taken several steps to address conservation issues. Some of the major ones include providing financial assistance to states and union territories under the centrally sponsored schemes of ‘Project Elephant’ for management of wildlife and its habitats in the country.
“Direction has been given to all the States/UTs that linear infrastructure project proposals for consideration of the Standing Committee of the National Board should be accompanied by animal passage plan prepared as per the guidance document, ‘Eco-friendly Measures to Mitigate Impacts of Linear Infrastructure’ on wildlife, the ministry said.
Through revised guidelines of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, states have been given the option to consider providing add-on coverage for crop loss due to attack by wild animals, it said.
In order to mitigate the human-elephant conflict in the trans-boundary areas, the central government has entered into a dialogue with Bangladesh which resulted in the Protocol on Trans-boundary Elephant Conservation between the two countries, the ministry said.
The protocol was signed…in the India-Bangladesh virtual summit on 17th December 2020 to facilitate smooth movement of elephants between India and Bangladesh and vice versa, it said.
An advisory was issued to deal with human wildlife conflict to states and union territories on February 6 this year.
Other measures include enhancement of ex-gratia compensation for the loss of life due to human-animal conflict from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, constitution of the Elephant Task Force which suggested declaration of 32 elephant reserves in the country, and releasing standard operating procedure (SOP) for dealing with captive and wild elephant deaths due to Anthrax/suspected cases of Anthrax, it said.