Legal Data by
April 18, 2017
April 18, 2017
April 18, 2017
Buxa hills in Jalpaiguri district were declared a tiger reserve in 1983. Of the total 42 villages in the reserve, the state forest department identified 18 villages in the core area to be relocated. These villages are homes to tribes like Rawas, Mechs, Santhals, Oraos and Garos. The residents depend on the forests for firewood and timber as well as for grazing cattle and collecting other nontimber forest products. In 2009, the state announced a relocation package of INR 10 lakh for every adult living in the core area of the tiger reserve. Just when some families decided to take the money, the government revised the amount to INR 10 lakh per household. This dissuaded the families from accepting the compensation. Now, the residents of the 18 villages are demanding that their land and forest rights be recognised under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The FRA stipulates that the government should first recognise the rights of the indigenous people living in the forest and then plan any kind of relocation. Lal Singh Bhujel, who represents Uttar Banga Van Jan Shramajeevi Manch at Buxa, an organisation working for the rights of forest dwellers, has been educating the village residents about their rights. On May 21, 2019, LCW contacted Bhujel for an update. "The entire system is in shambles. They have not recognised the rights of the forest dwellers and have rejected the land claims of close to 1.5 lakh families in this part of northern Bengal," he said. He spoke about the harassment at the hands of forest department officials by recounting a recent incident where the Village Assembly had stopped the illegal felling of trees. Later, the villagers were hauled up and taken to the police station. "They do what they want to do," Bhujel said while describing the injustices meted out by the forest department. In 2019, a report claimed that FRA claims were being wrongfully rejected in Buxa Tiger Reserve. When LCW asked him about the February 2019 Supreme Court eviction order, Bhujel responded with a question, "If our claims were rejected, why were we not informed?" Forest dwellers are routinely harassed by the forest department and the police. On one occasion, in 2008, two villagers died inside Buxa when forest staff opened fire on groups alleging that they were felling trees. Similarly in 2018, a tribal youth was shot dead while collecting firewood, which the forest department alleged as illegal felling of trees. In December 2020, forest officers from the reserve illegally detained a local youth. Around 100 villagers marched to the forest office demanding transfer of the officer involved in the illegal detention.
Demand for legal recognition of land rights
Demand for promised compensation
Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources
Complaint against procedural violations
Refusal to give up land for the project
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
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 FRA
Lack of legal protection over land rights
Forced evictions/dispossession of land
Non-payment of compensation/promised compensation
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)
Main Reasoning/Decision of court
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Whether criminal law was used against protestors:
Reported Details of the Violation:
Forest dwellers are routinely harassed by the forest department and the police. On one occasion, when the Village Assembly obstructed the illegal felling of trees, false charges were slapped on them and they were taken to the police station. In 2008, two villagers died inside Buxa when forest staff opened fire on groups alleging that they were felling trees. Similarly in 2018, a tribal youth was shot dead while collecting firewood, which the forest department alleged as illegal felling of trees.
Date of Violation
Location of Violation
Buxa tiger reserve
Nature of Protest
Development of a network or collective
Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
West Bengal Forest Department, National Tiger Conservation Authority
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:
Uttar Banga Van Jan Shramajeevi Manch