The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has asked all states to urgently fill existing vacancies of forest guard position especially in Tiger Sanctuaries even if they have to relax recruitment norms. The NTCA met for the first time last week and at the insistence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed to set up a task force on Tigers.
The new directive said that the states should give preference to local forest-dwellers even if there is a relaxation of rules to fit these people for the job. However, it did not say what parameters can be relaxed and how much can be bent but only to say that they need to fill the vacancies within 6 months.
A 2001-2002 survey of tigers reported 2642 but this number has met with great suspicion because there are blatant errors in the survey process and even a sampled verification could not sustain these numbers. Therefore, a new survey has been ordered.
A NTCA sub-committee, chaired by Indian Institute of Science scientist Madhav Gadgil is being created to network researchers to integrate numbers from field researchers and corroborate this research with independent monitoring mechanism. Created in September through an amendment of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, it looks like this sub-committee has been politicized and polarized.