Forest inhabitants not happy with revised monetary package for moving out

They prefer staying in reserve forests; greens favour better package

A revised package with enhanced monetary compensation announced by the forest department has failed to impress forest dwellers who continue to reside within reserve forest areas.

The forest and environment department, on January 5, notified increased compensation package for tribals from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh.

This decision was taken following a meeting by National Tiger Conservation Authority with the forest department officials in 2016. Vijay Kumar Gogi, additional principal chief conservator of forests, told DH that the package had been arrived at, keeping in mind the present market rate.

Calculation of the revised package was based on the market value assessment of the HD Kote sub-registrar’s office by the chief wildlife warden.

Factors like cost of agriculture land procurement and development, settlement of rights, homestead land and house construction, incentives and community facilities were considered before arriving at the revised package.

Number of tribals moving out had not seen any increase in the last few years and the new package is a win-win situation for the tribals and the department, Gogi said.

However, the new package does not appear to have reached the forest dwellers, a majority of whom are ignorant about it. Siddaiah, a tribal near Anshi Tiger Reserve, said he was neither aware of any revised compensation nor was keen to relocate. “It is safe inside the forest. We have been staying here for years. Those who moved out are finding it difficult to make their ends meet,” he said.

In the meantime, conservationists have written to T M Vijay Bhaskar, additional chief secretary, Forest, Environment and Ecology, saying that the department should improve the package.

Praveen Bhargav, trustee, Wildlife First, said the revised package was not beneficial to tribals. He said, in the larger interests of social justice, the government must modify the order by calculating the package based on the old formula.

As per the previous package, 40% of the compensation was given for agriculture land procurement and development, 15% for settlement of rights, 30% for homestead land and house construction, 5% for incentive and 10% for community facilities.

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