Odisha Forest Department Demolishes Houses of 32 Families during Covid-19 Pandemic

Reported by

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

April 5, 2021

Location of Conflict



This is a Left Wing Extremism Affected District

This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Forest Administration (Other than Protected Areas)



People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)


Starting Year





Conservation and Forestry

On April 24, 2020, the Odisha forest department demolished the homes of 32 forestdwelling families in Sagada village on the grounds that they were encroaching on reserved forest land. They did not get any notice prior to the demolition. The operation was led by the divisional forest officer of South Kalahandi and subcollector of Bhawanipatna. As the demolition drive was in progress, local advocate Siddharth Naik reached the spot and tried to intervene. But he was sent away by the forest department. The government defended the demolition and consequent eviction by saying that the forest dwellers were encroachers and belonged to another village 15 kilometres away. Prafulla Samantara, a forest rights activist from the state, told LCW that the homes of the affected families were in a remote village and were destroyed in the rains, so they had migrated to Sagada six months earlier. They settled close to the panchayat office as it was convenient for them to get wage labour work, ration and Covid19 relief supplies. However, they were evicted as they had allegedly built their houses on reserved forest land. The forest department says it has shifted the evicted families to their original village and also gave each family three months worth of supplies under the public distribution system, along with Covid19 cash incentive of INR 1,000. Samantara has written to the state chief secretary demanding suspension of the officials who ordered the eviction as well as better compensation to the displaced people.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land


Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?


When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. The Indian Forest Act, 1927

    Section 26

  2. Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980

    Section 2

  3. Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996

    Section 4

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation/violation of the PESA, Lack of legal protection over land rights, Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:


Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Thirty-two families were evicted from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic

Date of Violation

April 24, 2020

Location of Violation

Sagada, Kalahandi

Nature of Protest

Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest and Environment Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?


Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Nihar Gokhale

Reviewed By

Nihar Gokhale

Updated By

Nihar Gokhale

Edited By

Nihar GokhaleLand Conflict Watch

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