New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Government of India and the state governments of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar acting on a writ petition filed to ensure fiscal discipline and proper utilisation of funds released under Project Tiger.The two-member division bench comprising Justices Lahoti and Brijesh Kumar heard the petition today. The petition has been filed by Mr Ashok Kumar, Trustee and Senior Advisor, Wildlife Trust of India. The Government of India and the state governments of Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar now have to file a reply to the notice. The petitioner was represented by Mr Sudhir Mishra, advocate.
The petition was filed pointing out the indiscipline and diversion of funds exclusively earmarked for the purpose of conservation of wildlife under Project Tiger and other schemes of the Union government. Mr Kumar a former member of the steering committee of Project Tiger, a high-power committee under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The petition said that the state governments, under the guise of administrative delays were ensuring that the funds specially earmarked for conservation are not made available for their intended purpose and diverted for other purposes. Another aspect taken up was the timely arrival of funds for the purpose of conservation.
Based on information gathered, the petition said, it was found that the plight of staff, guards and workers in Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttaranchal, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve in Uttar Pradesh and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan was similar to that had prevailed in Valmiki Tiger Reserve a year back.
Mr Kumar had earlier filed a petition in 2001 in the Supreme Court urging the court to intervene in the crisis in the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar where employees had abandoned the reserve in protest against non-payment of salaries for more than a year. The state government paid the salaries after the apex court issued it a notice.