Vijay Pinjarkar,TNN 
NAGPUR: Three years ago when the buffer zone of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) was being declared, there was a big hue and cry over including 79 villages in the buffer zone with people apprehensive that they will have to move out. Three years down the line, the perception has changed and more villages now want to be part of the buffer.

It took nearly three years for the people to understand that it is not coal but tigers in Chandrapur that are bringing money to the villages in Tadoba landscape. In a major turnaround, four gram sabhas — Gujgavhan, Bothali, Khangaon and Nimdhela — have passed resolutions for their inclusion in the buffer zone of TATR. These villages are located near Khadsangi, close to Tadoba. Besides, seven villages are pursuing arrnagements with officials to set up eco-development committees (EDCs).

Currently, four tourism routes are open in the buffer zone. A new route between Khadsangi and Navegaon will be opened on Sunday. The new buffer route will be operational near Navegaon gate of TATR. Families of around 20 more guides will get a livelihood from this new route.

"This route will be jointly managed by four EDCs. The revenue will be shared between all the EDCs and a part will be shared with TATR Tiger Conservation Foundation. The best part is that the EDCs have decided to procure their own gypsies," said Gajendra Narwane, deputy director (buffer), TATR.

Narwane added that, in the last two years, the villagers have already earned Rs25 lakh (1 lakh = 100 000 rupees) till December 2014 through tourism in the buffer zone. Currently, buffer tourism is being operated in Agarzari (Navargaon Chowki) on Moharli side and in Kolara.

Interestingly, 12 guides have bought their own gypsies (4WD vehicles) out of the tourism revenue. Over 120 guides have already been trained and 69 provided with long duration trainings.

If tourism is one source of revenue for villagers, to date, funds have been provided for provision of LPG connections to 13,000 families. There are 18,563 families in buffer.

"Of the 79 villages in the buffer, the LPG scheme has reached 62 villages. This month, funds have been provided for LPG connections to 2,500 families from Maroda, Bhadurna, Usrala Chak, Adarsha Kheda, Wasera and Shivni villages. We are hopeful that in the coming year all the families in the buffer will have a LPG connection," said Narwane.

Among the other benefits, toilets will be built in Pangdi and Junona villages this year through the funds of TATR foundation. Already three villages have been provided with sanitation facilities through foundation funds.

In a bid to curb man-animal conflict and deaths of wild animals, 60 parapet walls have been constructed on open wells. Funds for 150 more parapet walls have been already provided to the joint forest management committees (JFMCs). There are 271 open wells in the buffer zone. A remaining 61 parapet walls will be constructed by this year end.

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