A Note On India’s Protected Areas

Praveen Bhargav
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Evergreen forests amidst tea-gardens
Amoghavarsha JS
India’s fragmented PAs are under severe pressure

Here’s an interesting document from the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) which provides details on the Protected Area (PA) network of the country. While the figure of 668 PAs appears to be a large number, in reality these are small areas (just 4.9% of total geographic area) scattered across India’s landscape under severe pressure. Obviously, there needs to be a sufficiently large administrative infrastructure to protect and manage PAs. While the document has no details on this, here’s a chart of the typical structure at the State Level and for each PA.

State Wildlife Administration Structure

To conserve and manage PAs, the average annual budgetary support provided by the MoEF is just under 250 crore rupees during the XI 5 year plan. Presently, Project Tiger gets the maximum allocation – an average of 150 crore rupees while Project Elephant gets a measly 17 crore rupees.

Apart from the information provided, it would have been really useful if the MoEF had included a rough valuation of various eco-system services that PAs provide to society. This would have provided a nice perspective and strengthened the debate as to why India needs to insulate PAs from all forms of human pressures — development, livelihood and tourism included.

Since the issue of development and projects like dams, mines, highways etc affecting PAs is of great concern, the document should have provided how much area of PAs have been diverted for such projects during the XI plan period including the percentage of rejection.

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Praveen Bhargav is managing trustee of Wildlife First and was a member of the National Board for Wildlife (2007-10).


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