In a major success, the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) management relocated 32 families from two settlements located in the core critical area of the tiger habitat.
Inhabitants of two tribal settlements from the core of STR which include 22 families of Upper Barahkamuda and 10 families of Balnaghar were shifted and resettled in Asankudar village under Thakurmunda tehsil on Saturday.
The STR management and Mayurbhanj district administration which have been working on the relocation for quite some time adopted a quiet approach and succeeded in persuading the tribals to move out. The Upper Barahkamuda settlement comprised nine males, 22 females and 33 children, while Balnaghar settlement had 10 males, eight females and 13 children.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority has asked all States to keep core critical habitat inviolate and free from human habitations basing on Wildlife (Protection) Act and Supreme Court directives. However, the inhabitants have to be be relocated with their consent.
“The inhabitants of these two settlements had given their consent for relocation in Asankudar village and avail the package as stipulated by the NTCA where each family gets `10 lakh. Apart from the package, each family is also allotted 10 decimal homestead land and a house under the State Government’s Mo Kudia scheme at the relocated site,” Field Director of STR Anup Kumar Nayak said.
The shifted villagers will be put up in temporary sheds erected by the district administration at the relocated site till completion of their houses. Tube-wells have been sunk and medical checkup by anganwadi officials is being provided to the settlers. They will also be provided cooked food for three days and ration will be supplied till each family is shifted to its newly constructed house.
Three years back, the STR management had managed to relocate 61 families from Jenabil. Although the settlements have been inside the core area since 1973, relocation was facing stiff resistance.
There are still three more villages - Kabataghai, Bakua and Jamuna - inside the notified core areas of STR. Kabataghai and Jamuna have a combined 61 families while survey has not been carried out at Bakua since the inhabitants are not ready to move out. In fact, the State Government has not been able to issue the final notification of Similipal National Park yet because of presence of these villages within its proposed area.
“The shifting of these two settlements will reinforce our attempts to make the core critical area absolutely inviolate for better conservation of tiger and its prey species,” Nayak added.
Across India, there are about 40,000 families living in the core critical areas of tiger habitats and the NTCA has been allocated `167 crore for the current Plan Period to effect the relocation and rehabilitation. Since the funds are short to meet the requirement, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had advised the States in 2010 to utilise funds from the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority for the rehabilitation of people from forest and protected areas.