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
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Forest and Environment Department
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Legislations Involved in the Conflict:
Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws
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
Out of Court
Name(s) of Court(s)
Nature of Protest
Complaints, petitions, memorandums to officials
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
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
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?