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India - The relocation conundrum

How does one ensure the fundamental non-negotiables of equity, justice and sustainability? What values do we want to uphold and what will be the process to make that happen?

"For a while it appeared that the relocation issue had gone onto the back burner because we were not hearing about it a lot. It never disappeared for sure, because it was central in many of the discussions around the declaration of Critical Tiger Habitats, Critical Wildlife Habitats and the Scheduled Tribes and Other....."

Maybe ‘violent controversy’ is a better term to describe the history of relocation from protected areas and the debates around this issue. Much has been said, argued, alleged and refuted in what is without doubt one of the most important, complex and unresolved issues on the conservation canvas of the country.

There is no common understanding, leave alone unanimity on the most basic of questions around relocation:

 Is relocation necessary at all?

 What’s wrong if people are willing to relocate voluntarily?

 What is voluntary relocation to begin with?

 What should be the process of relocation if there is a willingness?

 Should it be land for land or will financial compensation compensate justly?

For a while it appeared that the relocation issue had gone onto the back burner because we were not hearing about it a lot. It never disappeared for sure, because it was central in many of the discussions around the declaration of Critical Tiger Habitats, Critical Wildlife Habitats and the Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Forest Rights Act, to name just a few of the larger policy and legal instruments. The sense one is now beginning to get is that a lot is happening on the ground; a lot more, that is, than in the recent past.

This is what information and experiences from the ground seem to suggest and news reports in this issue of the PA Update, are perhaps, an indication of that.

A 2nd village from the Sariska Tiger Reserve has been moved recently, the 2nd phase of relocation has started from the Tadoba-Andhari TR in Maharashtra and a huge allocation has been approved for relocation from the Melghat Tiger Reserve in the same state. There have been some reports that successful relocation has prompted more families to come forward for the same. There is an agitation against the proposed Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve for fear of losing livelihoods (fear of relocation must certainly be on their minds as well) while in neighbouring Kerala the agitation is for just the opposite. Those living in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary here are upset that the scheme for their relocation is not being implemented promptly.

The issue might be relocation but five different stories seem to emerge from these five different sites. Are these reconcilable for us to have an overarching policy that is acceptable to all and can be made to work? How does one ensure the fundamental non-negotiables of equity, justice and sustainability? What values do we want to uphold and what will be the process to make that happen?

Puzzle, mystery, poser, riddle, problem, challenge...conundrum  has  many synonyms and clearly they all hold true when we discuss relocation from protected areas.

Editorial - Protected Area Update No 96

For more information contact the Editor - Pankaj Sekhsaria (psekhsaria@gmail.com)


Umri village moved out of Sariska T R

Almost five years after the first village re-location from the Sariska Tiger Reserve, a 2nd village, Umri, was moved in the month of  February. The population of about 250 Gujjars (84 families) and twice the number of their cattle have moved to Rundh Mozpur, some 40 km away (PA Update Vol. XVI, No.3). According to the Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), Rajasthan, this has made available nearly 50 sq km of land for wildlife of the reserve.

The families accepted the option of taking agricultural land as compensation. Accordingly, each got six bighas of land and about Rs two lakh as financial assistance for building a house. The Forest Department (FD) has made arrangements for water supply and electricity to the new village and the families have been divided into clusters of four for allotment of land.

Two tigers - ST 4 and ST 5 – have already been spotted in the habitation cleared by humans and the cattle.

Baghani was the first village that moved out in 2007-08 to Barod Rundh (PA Update Vol. XVI, No. 3), a locality in Alwar district, close to the Jaipur-Delhi stretch of the National Highway. After five years outside the forest, they are reported to be happy. It has been argued, in fact, that the good rehabilitation package given to the first village had helped others to also come forward. There are other reports, however, that those who have been moved are unhappy as the promises made to them have not been kept in the process of relocation.

The Rodkayla and Dabli villages inside the reserve too are in the process of moving out. Another four villages – Kiraska, Devri, Rourkala, and Hamirpur - are in various stages of re-location. In Kiraska, 80 families have moved out and 16 others have taken the second installment of the package.

Sources: Sunny Sebastian, ‘Villagers make way for big cats in Sariska’,  The Hindu, 15/02/12,

‘Indian village relocated to protect tigers’, The Daily Star, 16/02/12.

Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava. ‘Lies, deceipt and relocation’, Down to Earth, 01/03/12


Jamni villagers set for relocation from Tadoba – Andhari T R

Over 104 families from Jamni village, located inside the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) have received the first installment of Rs one lakh, for their relocation from the reserve. They have opted for the total cash compensation of Rs. 10 lakh per family as per the rules of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Another 114 families from the village have opted for the proposal where they would be rehabilitated by the Government. As part of this scheme the Government would construct a house for them, besides giving them cash of Rs 50,000. They will be relocated to Ambdi village, on the Khadsangi-Samudrapur road in Chimur tehsil. It is about 30 km from their presnt village.

Around four years back, the entire Botezari village and 49 families of the Kolsa village within the TATR were rehabilitated at Bhagwanpur village, during the first phase of relocation.

Source: ‘Tiger conservation: Maharashtra villagers get first installment of rehab package’, Business line, 01/03/12.


Additional Rs. 3665.50 lakhs allocated for relocation of two villages from Melghat TR

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has approved the release of an additional Rs. 3655.50 lakhs for relocation of two villages from the core of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. The initial outlay of Rs.544.93 lakhs has therefore been increased to a total of Rs. 4210.43 lakhs. Of this money an amount of Rs. 739.19 lakhs was to be released during the year 2011-12. The money will be treated as 100% central assistance by the Government of India.

A total of 141 and 172 families from the villages of Dhargad and Pili respectively are to be relocated as part of this plan.

Source: Letter No. 4-1(10)/2011-PT by Dr. HS Negi, Deputy Inspector General (PT) dated 28/12/11.

Contact: D r. HS Negi, NTCA Annexe No. 5, Bikaner House, Shahjahan Road, New

Delhi-110011. Tel. No. 2338 7691 E-mail: hsnegi@rediffmail.com

Field Director, Melghat TR, Amravati- 444 602 Maharashtra. Tel: 0721 – 2662792


Agitation planned against delay in relocation from Wayanad W ildlife Sanctuary

People living inside the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary are planning agitations against the delay in the implementation of the scheme for their relocation from the sanctuary. The Wayanad Sanctuary Karshaka Samithi and the Wayanad Chetti Service Society has threatened that their members would occupy revenue land and buildings in possession of the Forest Department (FD) near the sanctuary in protest.

The Central Government had sanctioned Rs. 80 crore for the relocation of 800 families inhabiting 14 villages in the sanctuary in November last year and had released Rs. 5.5 crore for the resettlement of inhabitants of the Golur and Ammavayal Villages (PA Update Vol. XVII, No. 1). It had also specified that the amount should be spent before March 31, 2012.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests said the FD was awaiting an order from the government increasing the budgeted amount for the relocation scheme.

Source: ‘Forest –dwellers plan agitation’, The Hindu, 27/02/12.

Contact: W ildlife W arden, Wayanad Wildlife Division, P.O. Sulthan Bathery, Wayanad-673 592, Kerala. Tel: 0493-2620454

Chief W ildlife W arden – Kerala, Vazhudacaud, Trivandrum – 695014,

Kerala. Tel: 0471 2321610, 2529300. Fax - 0471 2320554. E-mail: cww@forest.kerala.gov.in

The full Protected Area Update No 96 Can be downloaded here:

 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/paupdate/attachments/folder/1684676556/item/list

 

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