Model move

The suc­cess­ful re­set­tle­ment of tribal com­mu­ni­ties from a vil­lage in the Tadoba And­hari Tiger Re­serve of­fers im­por­tant lessons for other States.


A SIM­PLE stone marker fac­ing a sprawl­ing grass­land in the Tadoba And­hari Tiger Re­serve (TATR) in Ma­ha­rash­tra reads: “This meadow has come up af­ter vol­un­tary re­lo­ca­tion of Ramdegi (Nave­gaon) vil­lage in the year 2012-13. All 240 fam­i­lies in Ramdegi vil­lage will­ingly opted to re­lo­cate.” It was a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in for­est con­ser­va­tion in In­dia. Five years on, Ramdegi’s re­lo­ca­tion has be­come a model for other States to em­u­late.

The tiger re­serve at Tadoba was de­clared a wildlife sanc­tu­ary in 1955. It was the third such “pro­tected area” cre­ated in the coun­try. In 1993, it was turned into a “crit­i­cal tiger habi­tat”, but it took two more decades to con­vince the six Raj Gond com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing within the TATR’S 625-kilo­me­tre core area to agree to re­lo­cate.

At­tempts to re­lo­cate com­mu­ni­ties from pro­tected ar­eas have been on­go­ing for decades now, but with­out much suc­cess un­til five years ago, af­ter which there has been a marked change. The main rea­son for this has been the dras­tic over­haul of the re­lo­ca­tion process since 2008 with the cre­ation of the Na­tional Tiger Con­ser­va­tion Au­thor­ity (NTCA).

Un­til 2008, the mone­tary com­pen­sa­tion for re­lo­ca­tion was Rs.1 lakh for a for­est-dwelling fam­ily and land for land at an agreed upon al­ter­na­tive site, usu­ally lo­cated in the buf­fer area of the tiger re­serve. The amount in­cluded the cost of a house as well as each fam­ily’s share of ex­penses to cre­ate com­mon civic in­fra­struc­ture. No monies were given for the lands for­gone, and each home, even in the case of joint fam­i­lies, was con­sid­ered one ben­e­fi­ciary unit.

In 2008, fol­low­ing the cre­ation of the NTCA, the For­est Depart­ment un­der the Union Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and For­est was flush with funds. This led to a ten­fold in­crease in mone­tary com­pen­sa­tion for those will­ing to re­lo­cate with­out seek­ing land at the new site. The sec­ond op­tion was five acres of land (two hec-

A VIEW of the sec­ondary school and the an­gan­wadi at Nave­gaon.

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