Tribespeople demand community forest rights inside Udanti Wildlife Sanctury

Reported by

Asha VermaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

December 3, 2019

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Conservation and Forestry

Udantisitanadi wildlife sanctuary was declared a Tiger Reserve under project tiger in 2009. The process of declaring the sanctuary as tiger reserve started in early 2004. During this process, Forest Department did not allow residents of villages in the core zone of the reserve to collect minor forest produce. The department asked them to leave the forest and settle somewhere else with a resettlement package under project tiger.Many tribal women were allegedly framed under false charges for collecting firewood from the forest area. Residents of these villages were already aware of the condition of those who were relocated, so they started to refuse to relocate and asserted their rights over forest. Residents of 17 villages organized themselves to start the movement for their rights, and went till Delhi. This happened before Forest Rights Act of 2006 was passed. Forest Rights Act empowered them to continue the movement. They submitted applications to the local administration offices to claim their individual and community forest rights. However, only Individual Forest Rights have been recognised for them but no community rights. Community rights are important because they allow communities to not just farm but also collect nontimber produce and do other activities like fishing and cattle grazing. Despite repeated demands of these people, river bridges and roads also have not been built by the administration. The gram sabhas of these villages have given many applications to the Subdivisional megistrate and the chief minister about these issues but haven't heard anything back. That led residents of these 17 villages decide to not let forest department do any kind of plantation activity in their forest area, and have taken the control in their hands to manage the forest. They have formed the Community Forest Management Committee through which they plan to manage their land, and plan to grow bamboo and other trees that give minor forest produce like mahua flower and tendu leaves which they can sell. Recently, residents of these villages protested on the NH 130 C to demand community forest rights and other facilities that have not been given to them yet. Instead of listening to them, the forest department continues to threaten them to relocate.

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Private and Common

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Forest Department

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