In a first for the tiger conservation effort in the country a Special Tiger Protection Force under the aegis of the National Tiger Conservation Authority is all set to provide the much-needed boost to preserve the dwindling tiger population. The proposal,formulated by the Home Ministry and the Ministry of Environment and Forests,envisages a specialised force trained by Central Paramilitary Forces and recruited by local police familiar with difficult jungle terrain: skilled,armed and young to boot.
Following a 50 crore grant from then Finance Minister P Chidambaram in this year’s budget for tiger protection,the NTCA,working with expert advice from the Home Ministry,has created a specialised structure for the STPF with each company comprising 112 personnel,including a Deputy Superintendent of Police,three sub-inspectors,6 head constables and 30 constables,divided into three platoons. In a significant departure from the usual practice where the regular forest guard is above 50 years or nearing retirement,the NTCA has specified that each member of the force must be below 40 years of age.
The first companies of the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF) are to be posted at Corbett (Uttarakhand),Ranthambhore (Rajasthan) and Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh) with a total of 13 companies posted in 13 of the most sensitive tiger reserves in India,a first time step for Project Tiger. Letters have been sent to Uttarakhand,Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to fill up the vacant posts with local police immediately,pending the raising,training and deployment of the STPF.