Relocated Maldharis Return to Gujarat's Gir Park, at Loggerheads with Forest Department

Reported by

Aditi Patil

Published on

December 6, 2016

December 6, 2016

Updated on

December 6, 2016

Location of Conflict

Gir National Park

Junagadh

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

National Park

)

People Affected by Conflict

2160

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

16

ha

Starting Year

1986

State

Gujarat

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Hundreds of Maldharis (traditional inhabitants of Gir forest) in Gujarat, who were relocated and resettled by the government's resettlement scheme between 1972 and 1986 have been returning to the forest over the last two decades. When they were relocated, they were given agricultural lands, pucca houses, loans and other facilities as compensation. However, over 2,000 of them have returned to the Gir National Park since, and most have them have sold the lands and houses given to them by the government. The Maldharis claim that living away from the forests affected their lives and livelihoods as they had to travel long distances to graze their livestock and access minor forest produce. The forest department, so far, has ordered a survey to ascertain how many Maldharis have returned and are currently residing inside the park. The government believes that the Maldharis and their livestock have had a negative impact on the lion habitat due to the overuse of both forest produce and fodder. However, studies have found that the Maldhari livestock is a major food source for the lions and the community, thus, is important for the conservation of the lion population in the national park. The forest department, however, has been pressuring the Maldharis to leave the fringe areas of the park where they are settled now. The problem came to light in a meeting with the chief minister, which was held to resolve issues concerning the people living around the Gir forest. One of the public demands was to allow the Maldharis to construct pucca houses inside the Gir national park. According to an estimate, around 4,100 Maldharis are currently residing within the park, including the returnees. Interestingly, the forest department, which started issuing identity cards for the Maldhari population living within the protected area in the mid2010s, has issued more than 5,500 so far, according to official forest department documents. Although the Maldharis do not have a specific demand and have not started any kind of organised protest, minor scuffles break out on and off between the community and the forest department.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Refusal to permanently part with land

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest, Non-Forest (Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

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, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 4(1): [Vesting of forest rights with traditional forest dwellers]; Section 4(2): [Forest rights can be altered by a subsequent notification for critical wildlife areas, which includes national parks]
Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
Section 35: [Declaration of National Park by state government]
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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:

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Land occupation

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Gujarat Forest 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?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

Image Credit:  

Image Credit:  

Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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