Maharashtra Government Relocates Tribal Families from Melghat Tiger Reserve, Communities Resist

Reported by

Prerna Chaurashe

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

September 15, 2016

September 15, 2016

Updated on

September 15, 2016

Location of Conflict

Melghat

Amravati

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

(

Tiger Reserve

)

People Affected by Conflict

200

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

300

ha

Starting Year

2007

State

Maharashtra

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

Melghat was declared a tiger reserve in 197374 and was later notified as a critical tiger habitat (CTH) in 2007 under the new Wildlife Protection (Amendment) Act, 2006. The entire reserve is spread over 2,029 square kilometres, of which 1,500 square kilometres is CTH. The core area comprises many tribal villages. Bori, Kund and Koha villages were relocated in 2001. The relocation of Vairat, Churni and Dhargad villages started in 2003 and were completed in 2012. The conflict started in May 2007 as tensions began to grow after the government passed a resolution demanding the relocation of 87 villages from the core area. The government offered them compensation as per a policy proposed by the National Tiger Conservative Authority, which would compensate every eligible family with INR 10 lakh. Additionally, the Maharashtra government promised to compensate the land owners with an amount equal to the value of their land. But the tribal families wanted to reclaim their land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006. In many cases, their rights were rejected and they were forcibly relocated as "encroachers". The tribes accused the forest department of not letting them cultivate on their agricultural land. The revenue department asked the local talathi (a person who maintains the revenue record of the village) to investigate. But largescale discrepancies crept in. Forest dwellers who had occupied land prior to 2005 were not allotted land while some who settled after 2005 received land for cultivation. In 2017, a group of 1,200 tribal from eight villages, who were relocated five years ago, returned to the forests and occupied the place for 36 hours, demanding rehabilitation facilities and better compensation. In an academic paper by Elenora Fanari (2019), a total of 1,360 families got displaced after 2008. According to a 2016 report, about 19 villages remain to be rehabilitated from the core area. In January 14, 2019, the tribal people expressed their unhappiness at the compensation petitioned to the district collector's office and the forest department. They demanded the forest department to return their land. On January 22, a protest turned violent after which the state reserve police force and riot control police force were deployed. The police arrested 20 protesters. The relocation is said to be in progress, and so is the continuous resistance by tribal people to seek back their land. Despite the rejection of some claims, the District Level Committee (DLC) granted community forest rights and fishing rights on over 3,000 hectares within the tiger reserve. The Melghat Tiger Reserve officials have expressed their discontent over this decision.
In June 2020, the DLC again recognised individual forest claims of 76 people in Semadoh village within the reserve under the FRA. However, environmental activists have opposed this move and have demanded their resettlement outside the reserve area.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Demand for rehabilitation

Demand to get back acquired land

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Refusal to give up land for the project

Demand for more compensation than promised

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Protection against forced eviction, Demand for more compensation and rehabilitation if evicted.

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?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws, Other, Central/State Government Policy

Legislations/Policies Involved

Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Sections 3(a) [The right to hold, live and cultivate on forestland by members of Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers shall be a forest right]; Section 3(d) [Access to entitlements such as fish and other products of water, grazing and traditional seasonal resources shall be a forest right]; Section 3(m) [Right to in situ rehabilitation and alternative land where Scheduled Tribes have been displaced from forestland without adequate rehabilitation prior to December 13, 2005, shall be a forest right]; Section 4(1) [The Union government shall vest all the forest rights mentioned in Section 3 with Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers]; Section 4(2) [The forest rights recognised may be modified for the purpose of creating inviolate areas of wildlife protection after - i) The state government ensures that no other alternative options are available; ii) Resettlement shall take place only after facilities and land reallocation at the resettlement location are complete]; Section 4(3) [Forest rights shall vest to communities who occupied the forest land prior to December 13, 2005]
Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006
Section 38(V)(5) [Scheduled Tribes shall be resettled for the purpose of creating inviolate areas for tiger conservation only after - i) The process of recognition and determination of forest rights is complete, ii) The Union government establishes, with the consent of Scheduled Tribes, that their presence on the land might threaten the existence of tigers in the area, iii) Resettlement or alternative packages have been provided as per the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007, iv) The informed consent of the Gram Sabha concerned has been obtained]
Ministry of Environment and Forests Guidelines for Voluntary Village Relocation in Notified Core/Critical Tiger Habitats of Tiger Reserves, 2010
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]
National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007
Clause 7.12.1 [In the case of displacement of more than 200 Scheduled Tribe families, the rehabilitation plan shall contain a programme for development of alternate fuel, fodder and non-timber forest produce resources on non-forest lands]; Clause 7.12.2 [The Gram Sabha shall be consulted in all cases of land acquisition in Scheduled Areas according to the provisions of PESA]; Clause 7.21.3 [Each affected member of the Scheduled Tribe shall be given preference in allotment of land-for-land programmers]
Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
Section 4(i) [The Gram Sabha shall be consulted before any land is acquired in Scheduled Areas for development projects]
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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

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Non-implmentation/violation of PESA

Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Land record discrepancies

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Disposed

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Yes

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Bombay; Supreme Court

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Torching of houses

Sexual violence/sexual harassment

Arrest/detention/imprisonment

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

2015: Forest deprtament officials reportedly burnt down a hut built over forest land; 2016: In April, a forest officer was arrested on rape charges; 2019: A protest in January turned violent after which the state reserve police force and riot control police force were deployed. The police arrested 20 protesters.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Land occupation

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest department, National Board for Wildlife

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:

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/talegaon-villagers-reap-crores-after-land-acquisition/

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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Updated By

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Edited By

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