Baiga Tribe Protests against Relocation from Achanakmar Tiger Reserve in Chhattisgarh

Reported by

Eleonora Fanari

Published on

January 19, 2017

January 19, 2017

Updated on

January 19, 2017

Location of Conflict

Jalda village

Kumba, Sambhardhasan, Bankal, Bahaur and Bokrakhachar villages

Bilaspur

This is A Schedule Five District

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

Tiger Reserve

)

People Affected by Conflict

1195

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

62620

ha

Starting Year

2009

State

Chhattisgarh

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

The Achanakmar Tiger Reserve (ATR) is home to the Baigas, a forestdwelling tribal community classified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. In 626 hectares of the core area of the reserve, there are 25 forest villages, with approximately 75 per cent of the population belonging to the Baiga tribe and the remaining consisting of the Gond and Yadav communities.  Since 2009, the Baiga families have been facing the threat of displacement from their ancestral forestland. In February 2009, ATR was notified under Project Tiger, following which the administration decided to relocate the forest villages from the core area to make it an "inviolate space" for tigers.   Subsequently, in December 2009, the administration launched Phase I of its relocation plan. It relocated six out of the 25 villages from the core area, namely, Kumba, Sambhardhasan, Bankal, Jalda, Bahaur and Bokrakhachar.  Reportedly, this affected 249 families, of which 238 families belonged to the Scheduled Tribe, and the remaining were from Other Backward Castes. The families were reportedly forced out in a frenzy and had to live at the periphery of the forest without proper rehabilitation. They were also strictly prohibited from collecting forest produce and fuelwood, which affected their livelihood. A 2010 factfinding report noted that civil society organisations and local political parties had to intervene to persuade the administration to actualise the rehabilitation plan. The factfinding report also cited the controversial relocation as a failure to recognise the community claims to rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. As per news reports, the relocation colonies were completed only a year after displacement while the families resided in temporary housingReportedly, the displaced families also received a meagre compensation of INR 50,000 though they were entitled to INR 10 lakh under Project Tiger.  In 2012, the forest department claimed to have used INR 9.5 lakh to develop facilities and houses for every compensatory. However, the communities alleged that the administration misused the relocation funds and did not provide them with the promised facilities for rehabilitation concerning healthcare, education and livelihood practices. Moreover, much of the land allocated was uncultivable and lacked irrigation support for farmland. According to a 2013 news report, the tribespeople claimed that they have no alternative livelihood options outside forests. Instead, they have had to work as contract labourers or migrate to urban areas. The field director of the tiger reserve, meanwhile, claimed that all the facilities and basic amenities were provided to the affected families. He also stated that they were being given training to adapt to new lifestyles and adopt new livelihood practices. Another report said that the administration explained the division of expenditure in local newspapers.  Meanwhile, the administration also continued to plan the relocation of the remaining 19 villages. An attempt at this was made in 2015 when the forest advisory committee approved relocating five more villages from ATR. The proposal was to relocate 365 households out of the core area, but the administration did not undertake the rehabilitation then.  In some of these villages, the tribespeople also reported harassment from the forest staff and increased difficulty in accessing the forests. Since 2018, many of these villages have lived in the fear of displacement due to the proposed tiger corridor between the Kanha and Achanakmar Tiger Reserves. In March, the tribespeople from over 20 villages came together to march against the project. They also demanded recognition of their rights under the FRA.  Earlier in 2018, a newspaper reported that the Union government had released funds for relocating the remaining 19 villages.  In November 2019, the state forest department submitted a proposal to get a forest clearance permit for 255 hectares of forestland for relocating three villages, namely, Tilaidabra, Birarpani and Chhirhattha from ATR to the Mungeli forest division. The proposal is currently under consideration.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for rehabilitation

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand for promised compensation

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?

No

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 Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Section 3(1)(v) [Offence of wrongfully dispossessing a member of the Scheduled Tribe from their land or premises]; Section 3(1)(xv) [Offence of forcing a member of the Scheduled Tribe to leave their house, village or other place of residence]; Section 3(1)(xv) [Forcing a member of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to leave their house/village or other place of accommodation]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(e)(i) [Programmes and projects for social and economic development to be approved by the Gram Sabha]
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3 [Rights of forest-dwelling Schedule Tribes, including entitlement over land]
Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972
Section 38V(5) [This section lays down the strict conditions that must be met if there is to be resettlement of Scheduled Tribes or forest dwellers]
Project Tiger, 1973
Under Project Tiger, Achanakmar was declared a Tiger Reserve
Ministry of Environment and Forests Guidelines for Voluntary Village Relocation in Notified Core/Critical Tiger Habitats of Tiger Reserves, 2010
These guidelines lay down a detailed procedure and safeguards under the Wildlife (Protection) Act and the Forest Rights Act for voluntary and consent-based relocation in areas identified as critical tiger habitats; Clause 6.1.2.4 [Families who are to be relocated as per the provisions of this policy may choose to opt for a one-time payment of INR 10 lakh, without any other rehabilitation benefits, or opt for the relocation/rehabilitation process carried out by the forest department]; Clause 6.2..1.3 [Families who opt for the rehabilitation process by the forest department shall be entitled to two hectares of agricultural land, compensation for homestead land and house construction and integration into the other ongoing social welfare schemes at the district level]
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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

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Violation of free prior informed consent

Non-payment of compensation/promised compensation

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

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:

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Reported Details of the Violation:

Tribals allege forest department harass them by filing false charges and putting them in jail.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department (Bilaspur Forest Division), National Tiger Conservatory Authority, Baiga Panchayat

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

Text LinkLand Conflict Watch
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