“The guidelines aim to ensure that all necessary relating to procedures for the full and effective implementation of relocation are follow through; and that in the process of conservation and protection of tigers, the right of forest dwellers are respected,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in a statement after issuing the draft guidelines here.
The purpose of the guidelines is to make easier the state Forest Departments to carry out village relocation from notified critical tiger habitats. The draft guidelines, however, specifically said that “relocation must be purely voluntary and must not in any manner use force”.
According to the 1972 Act, critical tiger habitat areas of national park and sanctuaries are required to be kept as “inviolate” for the purposes of tiger conservation, “without affecting the rights of the Scheduled Tribes or such other forest dwellers.” The draft guidelines are being placed on the Ministry website for a period of 30 days to seek inputs from a wide spectrum of stakeholders. Under the revised Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (2008), the proposed package for relocation of villagers in the core tiger habitats has two options.
Payment of the entire package amount (Rs 10 lakh per family) to the family in case the family opts for it, without any rehabilitation by the Forest Department. In case the villagers, through the Gram Sabha do not agree to this, one of the important options is to provide two hectares of agricultural land per family.
In case revenue land is not available for this purpose, diversion of degraded forest land may be obtained after due clearance under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,” it says.