Tribals in West Bengal's Jaldapara National Park Await Recognition of Community Rights

Reported by

Eleonora Fanari

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

August 4, 2017

August 4, 2017

Updated on

August 4, 2017

Location of Conflict

Jaldapara National park

Alipurduar

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

National Park

)

People Affected by Conflict

10320

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

Starting Year

2008

State

West Bengal

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

At the Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar district, 12 villages of about 2,150 households have been fighting since 2008 for the recognition of their community rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, inside the protected area. These families mostly belong to the Rabha tribal community. Jaldapara was earlier declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1941 and in 2012, it was officially recognised as a national park.
Till date, not a single community forest rights claim has been recognised, with the claims pending at the sub-divisional committee level. The villagers are also subject to human rights violations by forest officials, like obstructing them from entering the forest to graze cattle or collect firewood and multiples attempts to forcefully evict them. In January 2010, more than 500 forest dwellers organised themselves to reclaim their forest rights and took charge of forest land outside the national park. The police arrested and harassed activists fighting on behalf of the tribal communities. In March/April 2013, the residents of North Khairbari, a village of 95 households, successfully resisted an attempt by the forest department to fell trees, braving threats and harassment by the police, local political leaders and the forest department. In January 2014, hundreds of North Khairbari Village Assembly members came together in protest, supported by the Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramajivi Manch. A case was registered against five of the members under sections 34, 186, 341 and 353 of the Indian Penal Code. In January 2017, the forest department sought the permission of the Village Assembly for felling of trees. They strategically allowed the department to cut down 450 trees spread over 15 hectares of land by submitting a resolution with their demands, in which they asked the state to recognise their forest rights and allow them to manage their forests. On May 22, 2019, LCW spoke to Lal Singh Bujhel, a member of the Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramajivi Manch, who said that the Village Assembly was still awaiting a response from the forest department on their rights claims. We sent an email to the block development officer (BDO) of Alipurduar district on January 25, 2021, seeking his response on the forest rights claims. We will update when we receive a response. The BDO is one of the members of the sub-divisional committee that scrutinises forest rights claims.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

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 Rights Act of 2006

Legislations/Policies Involved

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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:

Non-implementation/violation of FRA

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

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Other harassment

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Police arrested and harassed activists fighting on behalf of the tribal communities. Village residents were also obstructed several times from entering the forest to graze cattle or collect firewood, and multiple attempts were made to forcefully evict them.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

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:

Uttar Banga Van-Jan Shramajivi Manch

Resources Related to Conflict

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

Image Credit:  

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Reviewed By

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