News-CRUX-10     20th March 2024        

Context: In a first, the Tamil Nadu forest department has acquired 30.41 acres of erstwhile private patta land, situated in the core area of Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve (SMTR).

Srivilliputhur Megamalai Tiger Reserve (SMTR)

  • About: It was established in February 2021 through a joint declaration by the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments.
  • Merger of Wildlife Sanctuaries: The reserve came into being by amalgamating Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary and Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary, enhancing conservation efforts.
  • Tamil Nadu's Fifth Tiger Reserve: It holds the distinction of being Tamil Nadu's fifth Tiger Reserve and the 51st in India, bolstering the country's tiger conservation initiatives.
  • Fauna: Bengal tigers, elephants, leopards, Indian giant squirrels, gaur, and Nilgiri Tahrs, highlighting its biodiversity.
  • Vegetation: Tropical evergreen and semi-evergreen to dry deciduous and moist mixed deciduous forests, fostering diverse ecosystems.
  • Historical Transformation: The reserve's formation merged Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary and Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, bridging historical gaps in conservation efforts.
  • Unique Conservation Challenges: With a significant portion of its core area situated on private patta lands utilized for coffee and cardamom cultivation, the reserve faces distinctive conservation challenges.
  • Other four Tiger reserves of Tamil Nadu: Anamalai tiger reserve, Kalakkad - Mundanthurai tiger reserve, Mudumalai tiger reserve, Sathyamangalam tiger reserve.

Land acquisition for Tiger Reserve (TR)

  • Legal Acquisition: The land was acquired legally through private negotiation under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
  • Voluntary Surrender: A sum of Rs 2.33 crore was paid to seven landowners who voluntarily surrendered their land for conservation purposes.
  • Government Initiative: This marks the inaugural instance in India where the state government has procured private land for non-commercial purposes, specifically aimed at forest and biodiversity conservation.