The Environment Ministry in the third week of February 2013 constituted a committee that will review better legal protection to elephant reserves as well as the corridors in India under the green laws which are already present. The committee was constituted after National Board for Wildlife raised concerns about absence of any legal cover for the elephant corridors and reserves.
The central government has already identified two-third elephant reserves which cover 69582 sq km of area. The size of these reserves varies from 450-6724 sq km. These reserves not just include the forest patches of various kinds but also the tea plantations, revenue land, agricultural land, villages and townships.
As of now, these elephant reserves are identified as the programme of the environment ministry for facilitating more funds under Project Elephant central scheme. However, it does not facilitate better legal protection against the changes to demarcated landscape like that is case of tiger reserves. The government does not face many difficulties in safeguarding the tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries, but in case of elephant reserves, there are certain difficulties faced by the government.
This is so because the elephants travel hundreds of kilometres in a year and they run through the forest and, cities and villages as well.
Members of the committee
•The committee which was set up by the environment ministry will be headed over by retired senior forest officer, Vinod Rishi.
•The director of Project Tiger will be the member convener of the committee.
•Other members will include Member of National Board for Wildlife M D Madhusudan, elephant conservation expert Ajay Desai, chief wildlife warden of Odisha J D Sharma and Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Upadhayaya.
Purpose of the committee
•The committee will have a one year time for examining the existing networks of elephant corridors and reserves. The committee will inspect whether these reserves and corridors sufficiently cover the habitat of elephants and that what other legal cover can be provided to these reserves and corridors under the green laws recommended by Elephant Task Force.
•The committee will also assess impact of wildlife protection regulations on the population that lives on or uses the land that falls inside elephant corridors and reserves.