Tribals fear new sanctuary in Erode will take away their rights

They have appealed to the state government to implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006 before starting works on the sanctuary.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | EPS)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | EPS)

ERODE:  Tribal people fear they would lose rights over the forest and forest produce once the Thanthai Periyar wildlife sanctuary is established in Erode. They have appealed to the state government to implement the Forest Rights Act, 2006 before starting works on the sanctuary.

On March 20, Chief Minister MK Stalin announced in the Assembly that the Thanthai Periyar wildlife sanctuary will be established by consolidating Anthiyur, Bargur, Thattakkarai and Chennampatti forest ranges, spreading across 80,567 hectares. It will become the 18th wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

VP Gunasekaran, the coordinator of the Tamil Nadu Tribal People’s Association, said, “There are over 100 villages coming under Anthiyur, Chennampatti, Thattakkarai and Bargur forest ranges. It is to be noted that no official information has been given to any grama sabha who have forest rights under the Forest Rights Act regarding the wildlife sanctuary.”

“The Madras High Court has already banned cattle grazing within the sanctuary limit. Cattle rearing is the main occupation of the villagers in Bargur and other areas and it will be affected if the wildlife sanctuary comes into effect. Movement of villagers within the forest will be restricted,” he added. “But Forest Rights Act, 2006 protects people’s rights from these restrictions.

This act is already in force, but it is only nominal. The government should issue an official order to the respective Gram Sabha acknowledging our rights under the Act. Until then, the government should postpone the creation of sanctuary.” he added.

DFO of Erode N Venkatesh Prabhu said, “People don’t need to be afraid of this sanctuary. The Forest Rights Act is currently in force and the rights of the people belonging to hill and forest will not likely be affected due to this. We expect the GO for the Thanthai Periyar sanctuary to be issued within a month.”

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