Displacement Due to Similipal Tiger Reserve Project of 1973
The Simlipal Tiger Reserve, is a compact block of elevated plateau located in the central portion of Mayurbhanj district, in the northern part of Orissa. The Simlipal Reserve Forest spread over 2,750 sq. km, was declared as “Tiger Reserve” on 04.12.1973, under Project Tiger Scheme of India. On 31st December 2007, the Critical Tiger Habit (CTH) was declared as per the Section 38V of the WLPA amended act, extending its core area over 1194.75 sq. km and a buffer area of 1555.25 sq. km.
The National Park consists of seven ranges with 39 protection camps. The buffer zone has three forest divisions with 12 ranges and 19 protection camps. There is a road network of 597 km within the Core, and 139 km in the buffer zone of Simlipal Tiger Reserve.
There are 1,265 villages inside the Simlipal Biosphere Reserve with a total population of 4.62 lakh, out of which 73.44% belongs to minority groups. Out of 1,265 villages, 61 villages are situated inside the sanctuary area of which 60 villages are in the buffer area and 1 village still exists in the core area. There are 3 Gram Panchayats inside Simlipal, viz. Gudugudia, Barheipani and Astakumar. According to Census 2001 the total ST population in Simlipal area is around 11,520 (91.77%). The buffer has a total population of 12,500 people.
Keeping the aforementioned fact in mind, the Research Team of the Centre for Democratic Reforms and Advocacy (CFDRA), team comprising of 3 research fellows, namely, Mr. Hitabhilash Mohanty(Project Coordinator), Mr. Siddharth Jena(Research Associate) and Mr. Harihar Patra(Research Associate) have conducted a fact-finding investigation, delving deep into the aforementioned situation.
Table – 1: Conflict and mobilization in Similipal
|Intensity||MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)|
|Reaction stage||In REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)|
|Groups mobilizing:||Indigenous groups or traditional communities|
Local ejos Landless peasants Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Scheduled Tribes (Adivasi)
|Forms of mobilization:||Referendum other local consultations Street protest/marches Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment|
Table – 2: Impact of the Tiger Project in Similipal
|Environmental Impacts||Visible: Food insecurity (crop damage) Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover|
|Health Impacts||Visible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Other environmental related diseases|
|Socio-economic Impacts||Visible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)|
Table – 3: Outcome of the Tiger Project in Similipal
|Project Status||In operation|
|Conflict outcome/ response:||Compensation Criminalization of activists Under negotiation Application of existing regulations|
|Development of alternatives:||Some villages located in the buffer area, whose community forest rights (CFR) have been recognized, are constituting a forest management committee and 30 villages have already prepared a management and conservation plan for community forest resources. 21 villages have submitted a management plan to the Sub-divisional level committee and approved by the District collector. About 10 villages have already started implementing their management plan with the support of the Forest department. The process is being followed up by Vasundhara and CREFTDA, and a meeting is held with the concerned authorities every month to follow up the process.|
However, the real implementation of these rights continues to be obstructed by the forest department, and the indigenous communities are continuously struggling to proper implement the law – a law which has the potentiality to bring out of poverty thousands of people and legalize their status in their forest reserved areas. Legal Actions: The first legal action has been taken on 15th December 2014, when the local indigenous activist TelangaHasa from Jamunagar village, submitted an appeal to the to the Ministry of Tribal Affair to request to stop the relocation from the Simlipal Tiger Reserve and provide the basic amenities to villages inside Simlipal. On 15th and 16th December 2016, a National Public Hearing was organized by the Human Rights Law Network, in New Delhi, in support of the Jamunagarh relocated villagers. It was argued that while community rights and titles received their rights were immediately deprived in the relocated site. It was also criticized that the two villagers inside the core areas, were continuously denied of asserting their rights, although titles distributed and CFRs recognized. Since the beginning of 2017 local activist leaded by TelangaHasa, have started to get organized to protest against the ongoing eviction under the flag of SimlipalSurakshiaManch (SSM). An important meeting was organized at the state level on 6 January, 2017 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha to protest against the forcible eviction of the villagers from the STR. On that day the representatives of SimlipalSurakshiaManch (SSM) appealed to stop the relocation plan both in core and buffer area, asking to stop the continuous harassment and ensuring basic facilities to the communities of the Simlipal Tiger Reserve.
INFORMATION ON SIMILIPAL CORE AREA
There were four Gram Panchayats existing in the core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve. Details of these gram panchayats are as follows:
Jenabil – Total 84 families have been shifted in two phases from the village Jenabil and rehabilitated at Ambadiha Rehabilitation Colony under Udala Tehsil of Kaptipada Sub-Division.
Jamunagarh – Total 46 families shifted in two phases from the village Jamunagarh and rehabilitated at Ambadiha (8 families) and Bahubandh (35 families) Rehabilitation Colony under Udala Tehsil. (However, 3 families are still staying in the Jamunagarh village).
Kabatghai– total 85 families have been shifted in 2016 in two phases from the village kabatghai and rehabilitated 38 families at Ambadiha Rehabilitation Colony under Udala Tehsil and 47 families in Manada Rehabilitation Colony under Jashipur Tehsil of Panchpir Sub-Division.
Bahua – As per the survey conducted in the year 1998, a total of 61 families are staying in the village Bakua. After several persuasion the families are not willing to shift from their village.
Apart from the villages in the core area, there were villages in the reserve area of the Similipal Tiger Reserve. Details of these villages are as follows:
Bahaghar and Uparbarakamuda – 35 families have been shifted in 2013 and rehabilitated at Asankudar Rehabilitation Colony under Thkurmunda Tehsil of Panchpir sub-division.
Kiajhari – 79 families have been shifted from village Kiajhari during the year 2017 and rehabilitated at Khandiadhar Rehabilitation Colony under Karanjia Tehsil of Panchpir Sub-Division.
Ramjodi – 73 families have been shifted from village Ramjodi during the year 2018 and rehabilitated at Sialinai Rehabilitation Colony under Karanjia Tehsil of Panchpir Sub-Division.
Matakacha– 42 families have been shifted from village Matakacha during the year 2018 and rehabilitated at Pahadmadak Rehabilitation Colony under Karanjia Tehsil of Panchpir Sub-Division.
As per the National Tiger Conservative Act 2008, the rehabilitation package under Option-II i.e. payment of compensation @Rs. 10 lakhs per family through fixed deposit. Besides that, 10 decimal homestead land, Biju Pucca Ghar, electrification, drinking water, cattle shed etc. facilities are provided to those rehabilitated. Towards agriculture land @Rs. 1 lakh per acre has been given to those rehabilitated for their own agricultural land.