Similipal Surakshya Manch Protested Against forcible relocation of Villages from STR
Bhubaneswar: 6th Jan 2017:Similipal Surakshya Manch(SSM), Mayurbhanja a forum consisting of the villages within the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) affiliated to Campaign for Survival and Dignity(CSD), Odisha today in a press meet at Lohia Academy allege forcible eviction of the villages from the STR flouting all norms of Forest Rights Act, 2006 and Wildlife Protection (amendment )Act, 2006. They have particularly alleged that the district administration under the pressure from the Wildlife Department is seriously engaged in misguiding the innocent tribal using Wildlife NGOs. Telenga Hasa of Jamunagarh village (core area) who still continue to live along with other two families despite 35 families misguided and relocated from the village on 9th Sept 2015 addressing the media said., “The district administration along with the NGOs misguided the 35 families of our village saying to give 2 acres of cultivable land and 10 lakh rupees in the rehabilitated village at Nabara near Udala Sub-division. Our people never opted for 10 lakh cash but the district administration compelled them.” While Forest Rights Act, 2006 empowered us to live a dignified life in the village, the district administration and wildlife department is harassing us to leave the village so that they can fulfilled their dream to make the Similipal a national Park.” he further said.Mohanty Soren of the core village Bakua addressing the media said “There are 25 families in our village and 14 Individual forest right(IFR) claims were filed out of which only 2 families have issued IFR title. From last 2005, the wildlife dept. along with the district administration and NGO “Sangram” consistently visiting our village and asking us to leave the village taking 10 lakh rupees but all our villagers are determined not to leave our village.” He further said “we do not want money nor want to be relocated. But the district administration, wildlife department hands in gloves with NGO Sangram creating a fear among us and always behind us and putting pressure.” It is to be noted earlier Jenabill, Jamunagarh and Kabatghai, located in the critical core area, have already been relocated. Sama Sidu and Tribandha Barja of village Khejuri one of the buffer villages alleged in the Press Meet that they never thought to be relocated from their village. But very recently on 16th Nov 2016, the district administration hold a gram sabha meeting where Tahasildar and BDO along with the wildlife officials and NGOs came and asked the people to leave the village taking 10 Lakh rupees. They also promised us to provide 10 decimal homestead land and one pucca house under Biju Kutir Yojana. They said that you can lead a better life in the interest of the 10 lakhs. However, all the families in our village opposed their proposal.” After that they started threating us. Attending the Press Meet Prafulla Samantara, said, “While the wildlife Dept. and district administration celebrating relocations as success, there has been gross violation of the FRA, 2006 and Wildlife Protection(amendment) Act, 2006. The district administration along with the NGOs is taking the advantage of innocent and ignorant tribals in the area. Of course there is provision for relocation from core area but that has to be done with the consent of the concern FRA gram sabha. It has been observed that the district administration is seriously engaged in managing forged gram sabha in the recent Similipal relocations. Besides, it is quite evident from the the recent relocation of Kiajhari village from the buffer zone of STR is just the beginning and the district administration along with the wildlife department is determined to relocate all the 57 villages in the buffer zone of the sanctuary. Manohar Chuahan, Member CSD, Odisha addressing the media said, When CFR titles in annexure III and IV duly claimed under B and C forms were issued to 43 villages over 24786.23 Hectares(61,965.57 acres) of forest land on 9th April 2015 in the district we thought that it is historic step taken by the district collector Rajesh Praphakar Patil, But after just recognition of CFR rights, the recent forcible relocations from both core and buffer area, it is understood that why Mr. Patil is continue to be the collector in Mayurbhanja district from more than three years. He has very cleverly used the NGOs in the district to recognise CFR rights and relocate the villages for realising National Park status to the Similipal flouting all norms. He further questioned if all these villages have to be relocated what is the use of recognising 24786.23 Hectares(61,965.57 acres) of forest land under CFR.He also raised fundamental question saying that why the tribal will be sacrifice for declaring national park?. Why they will be evicted from their home for tourism and entertainment for others. He doubts the Govt. is in fact not thinking for the wildlife but for the entertainment of the urban people. He also demanded for revision of the Rs.10 Lakh compensation per family in the line of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and ask to compensate the CFR area in the new relocation areas when the tribals consented for relocation.Telenga Hasa said, this is the beginning our protest and we are going to organise our people under the banner of Similipal Surakshya Manch and vow to protect Similipal from the out siders, We believe Similipal can be batter protected when tribal and wildlife live together as ever. The SSM has demanded to halt relocation of villagers from Similipal forest and implementation of FRA, 2006, and PESA, 1996 in true spirit. They have also demanded to dismiss the post of Honorarium Wildlife Warden which is based on earlier law and irrelevant after FRA, 2006.