Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri today said that five wildlife sanctuary areas of Chamba district have been taken out of sanctuary area enabling the residents of these areas to avail benefit of their traditional rights. These include 52.98 sq. kilometre area of five villages of Sechu-Tuan sanctuary, 15.60 sq. kilometre area of 32 villages of Gamgul Siyabahi sanctuary, 8.81 sq. kilometre area of two villages of Kugti sanctuary, 19 sq. kilometre area of 18 villages of Tundah sanctuary and 51.83 sq. kilometre area of Kala Top Khajiyar sanctuary.

Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife) A.K. Gulati today submitted the rationalization report of these sanctuary areas to the Forest Minister. Forest Minister said that the residents of these notified wildlife sanctuary areas were not able to avail all traditional benefits of forests like others. Keeping this in view, a proposal was prepared to keep populated areas out of wildlife sanctuaries and National Parks which was sent to Hon’ble Supreme Court of India after approval of State Wildlife Board and National Wildlife Board. The Forest Bench of Supreme Court on 1st February, 2013 ordered to take out the proposed areas out of the ambit of wildlife area.

Bharmouri said that in all 318 villages have been taken out of sanctuary area and the residents of these villages would now be able to avail all traditional benefits.

He said that after the rationalization process, there were 26 wildlife sanctuaries, five national parks and three conservation reserves in the State and more than one lakh population would be benefited of protected and other nearby areas. He said that the total protected area of the State had increased from 12.86 percent to 15.01 percent of the total geographical area.

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