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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Biosphere work takes off after a lull

After a lull since its inception, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GMBRT), a statutory body set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu with the support of Global Environment Fund to preserve the ecology of Gulf of Mannar, has started implementing various projects in the coastal villages of Ramanathapuram and Tuticorin districts.

The extent of GMBRT is 10,500 with the core area covering 560 km.

It has 3,600 species of fauna and flora.

Out of the total project cost of Rs.140 crore, Global Environment Fund is funding around Rs.40 crore.

Though the office of the Trust started functioning three years ago, implementation of the project made little progress because of administrative and other problems.

Nearly 50 per cent of officials and field staff deputed from various departments showed little interest to take up their new assignments citing inadequate facilities in Ramanathapuram.

Moreover, the targeted beneficiaries of the project also felt that the project could pose a possible threat to their traditional livelihood.

After a series of confidence-building measures among the fisherfolk and solving administrative problems to a certain extent, the GOMBRT has started various micro-financing projects aimed at giving alternative employment.

"We have cleared a lot of obstacles in implementing the project. A sum of Rs.40 lakh has been given to various Village Marine Conservation Councils to start alternative livelihood programmes. A sum of Rs.4.5 crore will be spent this financial year," Mr. Melkani, Director, GOMBRT, said.

Source: The Hindu

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