Twenty village panchayats in and around Sathy forest area formed a federation to oppose the Tiger Reserve Project mooted by the Centre.
The panchayat functionaries, who met at Sathy on Saturday, said that the Centre had issued an order on the project last month though all panchayats had been opposing the project for the past one year. Of the 20 panchayats, 13 were located in the forest and seven were situated around the forest. The panchayats had adopted resolutions against the project at the gram sabha meetings on May 1, 2012, and had sent them to the state government seeking to withdraw its proposal sent to the Centre on the project.
The local bodies also suggested that the project could be carried out after fulfilling the Forest Rights Act and the Wildlife Protection Act, 2006. Their elected functionaries met the ministers concerned on May 7, 2012, to put forth their argument on the issue.
The villagers led by the panchayat members staged a demonstration at Sathy on July 9, 2012, against the project. Despite the protests, the Centre had notified the project and the state government too did not consider their pleas, they rued.
The members said that the project would snatch the livelihood of tribals in the forest and also jeopardise the rights of the locals in grazing cattle and collecting minor forest produces. It would pave the way for harassment by forest officials, they feared.