Tiger Reserve: Uncertainty over tribals' stay inside forest

Tiger Reserve: Uncertainty over tribals' stay inside forest

Already, the Centre has given nod for the ‘tiger reserve’ at the sanctuary and this is posing threat to more than 17,000 tribals settled in 62 haadis in the forests spread on an area of 610 sq km.

There are 22 tribal hamlets right in the middle of the forests and around 40 hamlets on the fringes.

In all, 2,500 families are settled there. Collecting minor forest prpduce and selling them has been the source of livelihood for them. It fetches them a good profit.

Since 2004, selling of Gooseberries, soapnut and other produce have been banned by the government.

This forced tribals to work in coffee estates. Moreover, there are 489 places which are being considered sacred by tribals. Four kinds of tribals are living in forests.

Each sect has its own identity, customs and rituals. Declaring the sanctuary as tiger reserve may affect their culture, feel tribals.

So far, 1,115 people have been issued title deeds under Forest Act and 800 more people waiting. The tribals who have been evacuated when the Bandipur forest was announced as National Park, are yet to receive benefits.

New policy sought

The tribals demand that the government’s proposal of disbursing Rs 10 lakh for each family. What they want is a new policy that involves tribals in protection of flora and fauna.

According to C Madegowda of Tribal Welfare Association, tribals live by consuming tubers, greens, honey and other products that are available aplenty in forest. Already, many of them have been displaced following ban imposed by the government.

Now, tribals feel, it has become for them to fight for their rights who have been living in forests for many centuries. They are planning to go on strike from October 12 to coincide with the International Tribals Day.

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