State Pushes for Human-free Tiger Habitat
With the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) mounting pressure on designated tiger habitats to keep their core areas free of human habitations, the two tiger reserves (TRs) of the State are busy planning relocation of villages from the critical zones.
While Similipal Tiger Reserve is awaiting approval of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for relocating two more villages, Satkosia Tiger Reserve is hopeful of working out the first relocation plan after the election code of conduct is withdrawn.
Of seven villages located in Satkosia’s core, the TR management authorities are keen to see inhabitants of Raigoda relocated at the earliest since the villagers themselves had agreed to shift voluntarily. In a Palli Sabha meeting held in October last year, the 71 families residing in the village gave their consent to move out of the core critical area.
At least three relocation sites have been identified by Satkosia Tiger Reserve authorities who are waiting for release of funds from the NTCA. There are two rehabilitation options available for the oustees but the Satkosia management wants cash compensation, livelihood and resettlement plans to ensure a smooth transition, Field Director Pandav Behera said.
Once the model code of conduct is withdrawn, the TR management will hold meeting with Angul Collector to give a final shape to the relocation plan so that oustees can get dwelling units as well as livelihood options as soon as they move out.
In fact, of the seven villages, six are located on the other side of river Mahanadi and their residents have, so far, been resisting the resettlement plans. In such circumstances, the relocation of Raigoda holds great importance. “We want to create a model relocation plan which will inspire inhabitants of other six villages,” Divisional Forest Officer of Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary SMT Rehman said.
Apart from aiming to relocate the revenue villages, the Satkosia management is also looking for shifting three forest villages from the core so that the critical zone remains completely free from human interference. “The Management Effective Evaluation (MEE) team of NTCA, which visited Satkosia two days back, advised us to initiate the relocation measures at the earliest,” Behera said.
Meanwhile, Similipal is also busy with the relocation plan of Kabatghai and Jamuna villages where 61 families are residing. The relocation plan is pending approval of the Forest Advisory Committee of MoEF since the villagers will be shifted to a forest land.
Sources in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) pointed out that moving out the residents of Jamuna may not pose much difficulty after the inhabitants of Barahkamuda were relocated in December last year. “The Khadia community members of Barahkamuda have strong rapport with the inhabitants of Jamuna. Now that the former have moved out, the relocation of the latter will be easy,” sources added.
In 2010, the STR authorities had moved out residents of Jenabil. That was followed by relocation of Barahkamuda and Balnagar last year.
“The residents of Kabatghai are ready to move out and we are persuading the inhabitants of Jamuna. We are hopeful of an early relocation,” said Field Director of STR Anup Kumar Nayak. A third village, Bakua, is located on the periphery of the core zone.