The Govt. of India had launched “Project Tiger” on 1st April 1973 to promote conservation of the tiger. Project Tiger has been the largest species conservation initiative of its kind in the world. While the field implementation of the project, protection and management in the designated reserves is done by the project States, who also provide the matching grant to recurring items of expenditure, deploy field staff/officers, and give their salaries, the Project Tiger Directorate of the Ministry of Environment and Forests was mandated with the task of providing technical guidance and funding support.
The implementation of Project Tiger over the years has highlighted the need for a statutory authority with legal backing to ensure tiger conservation. On the basis of the recommendations of National Board for Wild Life chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, a Task Force was set up to look into the problems of tiger conservation in the country. The recommendations of the said Task Force, interalia include strengthening of Project Tiger by giving it statutory and administrative powers, apart from creating the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. It has also recommended that an annual report should be submitted to the Central Government for laying in Parliament, so that commitment to Project Tiger is reviewed from time to time, in addition to addressing the concerns of local people. Broadly the urgent recommendations of the said Task Force are as below:
- Reinvigorating the constitution of governance.
- Strengthening efforts towards protection of tiger, checking poaching, convicting wildlife criminals and breaking the international trade network in wildlife body parts and derivatives.
- Expanding the undisturbed areas for tiger by reducing human pressure.
- Repair the relationship with local people who share the tigers habitat by fielding strategies for coexistence.
- Regenerate the forest habitats in the fringes of the tigers protective enclaves by investing in forest, water and grassland economies of the people.
Considering the urgency of the situation, Project Tiger has been converted into a statutory authority (NTCA) by providing enabling provisions in the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 through an amendment, viz. Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006. This forms one of the urgent recommendations of the Tiger Task Force appointed by the Prime Minister. The NTCA addresses the ecological as well as administrative concerns for conserving tigers, by providing a statutory basis for protection of tiger reserves, apart from providing strengthened institutional mechanisms for the protection of ecologically sensitive areas and endangered species. The Authority also ensures enforcing of guidelines for tiger conservation and monitoring compliance of the same, apart from placement of motivated and trained officers having good track record as Field Directors of tiger reserves. It also facilitates capacity building of officers and staff posted in tiger reserves, apart from a time bound staff development plan.
The Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006 has come into force with effect from the 4th of September, 2006, and the NTCA has also been constituted on the same date.