GUWAHATI, Nov 25 - At a time when Manas National Park � a World Heritage Site and Tiger Reserve � continues to struggle to restore its lost glory, the State Government�s lack of commitment in hastening its recovery process has worsened matters.
The State Government, for reasons best known to it, has not yet handed over to the Park authorities the funds released by the Central Government months back.
The predicament of the Park authorities should be evident from the fact that even routine activities, such as payment of salary to casual staff, looking after of the 40-odd departmental elephants, jungle patrolling, maintenance of forest roads and forest camps, among others, have become next to impossible in the face of the severe fund crunch.
�The situation is disturbing and is bound to hit the Park�s long-term well-being. Park security, in particular, can be the biggest casualty, with casual staff not getting salaries for months. Roads inside the Park have not been repaired due to fund constraint, hindering movement of guards. The upkeep of the camps too has suffered,� official sources who did not wish to be named told The Assam Tribune.
Floods in last August had also caused extensive damage to the Park�s roads and infrastructure.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had released an amount of Rs 2.8 crore for Manas in August. Another amount of Rs 1 crore from the Biosphere Fund, released in September, is also lying idle at the State Government�s disposal.
�These funds are critical to the smooth functioning of Manas, especially in view of the looming security concerns. Almost every routine activity of the Park has suffered with the State Government delaying the release of funds. This being the tourist season, it is all the more imperative that the fund is released at the earliest,� the source said.
Conservationists feel that the Park�s management would be totally jeopardized unless funds are released to it at the earliest. It is also being apprehended that the State Government might divert the fund to other heads.
The developments are ominous because Manas � also an Elephant Reserve, a Biosphere Reserve and an Important Bird Area (IBA) � is facing serious security threats with a number of the translocated rhinos falling to poachers� bullets in the past few years.