Tribespeople Struggle to Get Their Forest Rights Recognized in Nagarhole National Park

Reported by

Eleonora Fanari

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

August 11, 2017

August 11, 2017

Updated on

August 11, 2017

Location of Conflict

Nagarhole National Park

Kodagu

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

National Park

)

People Affected by Conflict

26400

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

0

ha

Starting Year

1978

State

Karnataka

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Jenu Kurubas are the original inhabitants of the forests of Mysuru and Kodagu districts in Karnataka. The tribe primarily comprises huntergatherers. One among the 58 tribal communities in the state, the Jenu Kurubas were listed as a primitive tribe by the state government in 1986. Today, they have the status of a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. Other than honeygathering, the tribe also collects minor forest produce and practises shifting cultivation for sustenance. Historically, the Jenu Kurubas took care of elephants for the Pallava and Chola kings. The tribe has been subjected to continuous multiple displacements historically. The displacement was twofold – first, they were pushed away from the forestlands to make way for estates, and second, they were exploited as laborers at the same estates that displaced them. Postindependence, when plantations reigned, the Jenu Kurubas were asked to leave their ancestral lands to facilitate the construction of the Kabini, Taraka and Nugu dams in the 1970s. These dams led to the submergence of large tracts of forestlands around Nagarahole and as many as 500 tribal families were displaced. The Wild Life Protection Act of 1972 led to further displacement of the tribe. About 3,400 families were relocated outside the forest with the promise of rehabilitation with agricultural land, a promise that never materialised, like most other landrelated promises made to the Jenu Kurubas over the years. In 1983, Nagarahole was declared a national park and was later designated as a tiger reserve in 1999. To resist the antitribal campaign of the state, the tribal communities living in the forests of Nagarhole and Kakanakote formed the Budakattu Krishigara Sangha (the Indigenous Peasants Organisation). According to a report in 2014, over 3,400 families were displaced between the 1970s and 1980s and the majority of them continue to be landless laborers today. Even though the forest dwellers had applied for community forest rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) as far back as in 2009, they are yet to receive formal recognition of their rights. Although many did receive Individual Forest Rights, the community members continue to face harassment at the hands of the forest department, with court cases having been filed against six prominent tribal leaders. In 2016, the tribal forum asked for rehabilitation measures. In May 2017, after the National Tiger Conservation Authority ordered against the distribution of FRA titles inside the core area of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, the tribal people protested before the district collector and called for withdrawal of the unconstitutional order. In 2019, the Supreme Court ordered authorities to remove forestdwellers in states where nearly two million claims had been rejected under the FRA. However, following nationwide opposition against the decision, the court later stayed its order to further review the claims. In June 2019, LCW contacted the offices of Abhiram G. Shankar and Sreevidya P.I, the district collectors of Mysuru and Kodagu, respectively, for their response to the order that denied the tribespeople forest rights but was unable to get in touch with them. However, a source from the Kodagu administrative complex, who wished to remain anonymous, told LCW that the administration had been revisiting the number of FRA claims for review.  In 2021, it was reported that the community had launched an indefinite protest against their eviction in March this year. Additionally members have also been protesting against the government's bid to push ecotourism in the ecologically sensitive Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve. Several community members, including some prominent leaders, were reportedly subjected to repeated physical harassment, threats and intimidation by the forest officials.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Complaint against procedural violations

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

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Environmental Laws, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
Section 35 [Declaration of an area as a National Park]; Section 38V [(1)Notification of an area as a tiger reserve; (4) Government to ensure protection of interests of people living in a tiger reserve in preparation of tiger conservation plan; (5) In situations where forest dwellers are required to be relocated, the facilities and land allocation at the resettlement location are to be provided before interfering with existing rights]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [Individual and community rights of forest dwellers]; Section 4(2) [No resettlement shall take place until facilities and land allocation at the resettlement location are complete as per the promised package]; Section 6 [Procedure for vesting forest rights in forest dwellers]
F. No. 22040/37/2012-NGO, Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, April 1, 2015
Para 1.1 [Recognition of PVTGs]
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    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

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

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Karnataka

Case Number

W.P. no. 14379/1999

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Other harassment

Physical attack

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Yes

Reported Details of the Violation:

Tribal community members have also been protesting against the government's bid to push eco-tourism in the ecologically sensitive Nagarhole National Park and Tiger Reserve. Several community members, including some prominent leaders, were reportedly subjected to repeated physical harassment, threats and intimidation by forest officials.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Development of a network or collective

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

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:

Development Thorough Education, Coorg Organization for Rural Development, Living Inspiration for Tribals, Wildlife Conservation Society

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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Documented By

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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Edited By

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