BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought a detailed report from the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statuary body monitoring tiger reserves in the country, on relocation of villages.
Expressing anguish over the slow progress in rehabilitation of the villagers, the apex human rights panel has warned the NTCA of coercive action if it fails to submit the report in four weeks.
Rights campaigner Radhakanta Tripathy, who had filed a petition in the commission, said the villagers residing inside Satkosia Tiger Reserve (STR) and in its adjacent areas suffer immensely due to failure of the State Government in relocating them. “The relocation of human habitations from the core critical areas of tiger reserves is being strongly insisted by the NTCA. But the Government is not paying any heed to the problem,” he alleged.
The tiger conservation plan for Satkosia was chalked out in 2006-07. There are five revenue villages - Raigoda, Marada, Kuturi, Salapagonda and Musuguda - inside the core area of 524 sq km.
The five villages occupied 416.74 hectare (ha) and Raigoda was the biggest of them with an area of 172 ha. Ironically, residents of Raigoda have been petitioning to move out of the core area but the wildlife wing and STR authorities have done precious little for their shifting.
The crops of the villagers are damaged frequently by elephants and wild boars. The villagers are, in fact, losing their source of livelihood. Another bottleneck delaying relocation is non-constitution of Tiger Conservation Foundation for Satkosia which is mandatory for direct funds transfer from NTCA to the STR, the petitioner pointed out.
“Since the funds are woefully falling short for the purpose, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had advised States to use funds from the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority for the rehabilitation of people from forest and protected areas,” Tripathy said.
He had requested the NHRC to investigate the case and direct the State Government and the Ministry of Environment and Forest to act on war footing to rehabilitate the villagers as per the norms and ensure adequate safety measures for their life and livelihood along with compensation.
Earlier, the Commission asked the Director of NTCA to expedite the relocation and submit a report, but the authority had failed to respond.