Forest Dwellers Relocated From Tamil Nadu's Mudumalai Tiger Reserve Await Compensation

Reported by

NeerajhaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

June 23, 2021

Location of Conflict


Nellikarai, Mandakarai, Nagampalli, Pulliyalam, Mudugulli and Gundital

The Nilgiris

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas


Tiger Reserve


People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)



Starting Year



Tamil Nadu


Conservation and Forestry

The Mudumalai Tiger Reserve spans an area of 321 square kilometres and is located in the Nilgiris district. In an attempt to conserve the diminishing tiger population, in April 2007, the state government declared Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary a tiger reserve as per the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. Subsequently, in December 2007, it was notified as a Critical Tiger Habitat (CTH). The demarcated area for the tiger reserve subsumed seven villages (28 hamlets) that consisted of nearly 449 families. These villages include Bennai, Nellikarai, Mandakarai, Nagampalli, Pulliyalam, Mudugulli and Gundital and are mainly inhabited by the Mountadan Chetty communities and landless members of the Kattunayakar and Paniya communities. After the declaration of the CTH in 2007, the Madras High Court directed the state to relocate the families from the seven villages. Meanwhile, the movement of people within the core area of the reserve became restricted, which hindered the normal lives and livelihoods of the forest dwellers. Seeing this, other communities reconsidered the relocation plan. While some of them wanted to relocate, many tribal communities who had lived around these forest areas and depended on its resources wanted to continue living in the reserve. In 2008, nearly 15,000 people gathered together to protest against the declaration of the tiger reserve, citing nonimplementation of the Forest Rights Act. In 2015, a parliamentary committee asked the Centre to look into the implementation of the relocation programme, pointing out that it had been delayed for years. As part of the relocation process, families have the option of choosing appropriate monetary compensation for land or land for land. But tribal people without land titles asking for land in place of the land they are giving up was not considered; the relocation did not take place according to the Critical Wildlife Habitat Provisions under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. According to a media report, relocation of the families happened in three phases. In 201617, the first phase of relocation involved 58 tribal and 177 nontribal families from Bennai and Nellikarai villages. In 201718, this was followed by the relocation of 55 tribal and 200 nontribal families from Mandakarai, Nagampalli and Pulliyalam village. The last phase involves 25 tribal and 186 nontribal families from Mudugulli and Gundital villages. The tribal families were promised a compensation of INR 10 lakh in 3 instalments. As registered by the Adivasi Munetra Kazhagam (a triballed nonprofit) to the National Commission of Scheduled Castes, around 93 families have not been given INR 6.7 lakh each of the promised compensation. The report also states that some families have been duped by the authorities by misguiding them to buy illegal land. A case had been registered against forest department officials on September 3, 2019, under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. As per reports dated November 2019, a section of the tribespeople living in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve are still unwilling to move out of the park.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for promised compensation, Demand for rehabilitation, Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources, Refusal to give up land for the project

Provide compensation (Monetary or land) as promised

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land


Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

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

Legislations/Policies Involved

  1. Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

    Section 2(b) [definition of "Critical Wildlife Habitat"]; Section 4(b) [Recognition of, and vesting of, forest rights in forest-dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers and conditions to be fulfilled before they are resettled]

  2. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

    Section 3(2)(va) [Punishable if any person commits any offence specified in the Schedule, against a person or property]

  3. Indian Penal Code, 1860

    120B, 465, 468, 471, 477A, 420

  4. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

    Section 38V(3) [State Government shall prepare a Tiger Conservation Plan]

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-payment of promised compensation, Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land, Non-implementation/violation of the FRA, Violation of free prior informed consent, Non-rehabilitation of displaced people

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court


Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Madras High Court

Case Number

Writ Petition No. 18531 of 1998

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:


Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, National Commission of Schedules Castes, National Tiger Conversation Authority

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?


Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

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


Updated By


Edited By

NeerajhaLand Conflict Watch

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