INDIA GREENS PARTY
Unchir-Dunktok, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, 7 June 2022: The India Greens Party (iGP) today said the honey-gathering tribe of the Nagarhole National Park & Tiger Reserve has every right to return to their homes in the Reserve.
The iGP in a press statement issued here at the national head office (NHO) of the party pointed out that a recent fact-finding investigation by the Fridays For Futures (FFF) Karnataka, and other organisations has revealed that the tribal people living in the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, who authorities say relocated voluntarily from the reserve, were in reality forcibly evicted.
What is now the Nagarhole National Park & Tiger Reserve in Karnataka state, which is one of the most popular tiger safari destinations in India, was created in 1983 from the ancestral land of the Jenu Kuruba and other tribes.
According to the investigation, evictions are carried out by the Forest Department but the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) supports them. The WCS insists these are “voluntary relocations” which are “win-win” for the tribes who, WCS claims, were living in constant fear of wildlife in the forest.
The investigation team interviewed many Jenu Kuruba people, who said they didn’t want to leave but were threatened and harassed into doing so, including by the Forest Department destroying their crops.
Now, according to the investigation, many Jenu Kuruba people are demanding to go back to their original villages, which are now inside the reserve.
The iGP said it was regrettable that the government promises made for the relocation were not kept. Many Jenu Kuruba are still struggling to survive at the relocation centres and most did not even get the three acres of land they were promised.
The Forest Department blocks them from going back to the forest to worship. The party said the evictions deprived them of their rights to worship their deities in the forest.
Ganguamma, who was evicted in 2018, said: “This is our only demand: let us go back. We do not need anything from you. We all can live on our own inside the forest as we have been doing for generations. Tigers and elephants do not attack us as they are our own family. We were happier and healthier and enjoyed well-being inside Nagarhole.”
Another Jenu Kuruba man, JD Jeyappa, told the investigators: “We have grown up inside the forests and shared the forests with wild animals so neither are we afraid of them nor do they destroy our crops. It is these Forest Department people we are afraid of and it is they who destroy our crops.”
An elderly Jenu Kuruba man, Basava Raju, who was “resettled” 100-km from the reserve in 2014, said: “These are not resettlement camps, these are camps to kill us, kill our roots in the forest, kill our culture and kill our sacred deities.”
Survival International’s Sophie Grig said: “This report exposes the reality of fortress conservation that is destroying the lives of Indigenous Peoples across Africa and Asia. The Jenu Kuruba have been illegally evicted and forced to live desperate lives in resettlement camps. They are even denied their constitutional rights to practice their religion. Many have simply had enough and are demanding their right to return to their villages in the forest. This colonial model of conservation is disastrous for people and the planet and must be stopped.”
In the meanwhile, the India Greens Party has extended its support to the tribals residing inside Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. These people will soon hold a massive protest in Kodagu demanding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Hundreds of Adivasis are expected to join the agitation.
It is to be noted that the Forest Rights Act was implemented in 2006, but tirbals in Nagarahole have not been given the benefits. Their demands have been ignored despite several protests and submission of memoranda.
The Act permits sanctioning of houses to forest dwellers within forest limits. Tribals have submitted the necessary applications for the grant of the forest rights, but they have been denied the benefit for over a decade now.
It is regrettable that the rights of the forest dwellers (Adivasis) are being denied under the pretence of the National Tiger Protection Authority.
In view of the above-mentioned observations, the India Greens Party demands a complete halt to continuing efforts to evict more Jenu Kuruba people. Those Jenu Kuruba people who want to return to their original villages to be allowed to do so. And, the Jenu Kuruba’s forest rights need to be recognised and respected.
– Issued from the IGP NHO.
(India Greens Party is registered with the Election Commission of India under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Registration Number: 56/476/2018-19/PPS-I, effective from 18/07/2019.)
National Head Office: GreenDham AnandiChait, IndraBalbhadra Parisar, Unchir-Dunktok, SH-31, PO-Ghurdauri, Distt-Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, INDIA. PIN-246194.
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