Thousands of tribals and other forest dwellers gathered at Piparia in Hoshangabad district in Madhya Pradesh to protest against their proposed displacement from the Satpura National Park, Bori Wildlife Sanctuary and Panchmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary. They argue that such a displacement is an attack on their livelihood and beliefs. Government claims that their displacement is essential for the development of the area and for protection of wildlife. Write a petition on behalf of the forest dwellers to the NHRC, a response from the government and a report of the NHRC on this matter.
Letter from Tribals to NHRC
- Government’s proposal is a violation of human rights.
- It is taking away their right to live, right to follow their beliefs.
- For centuries the forests have been their means of livelihood.
- They have practised their rituals here.
- No alternative has been suggested to them.
- Nothing has happened to the wildlife, so why this sudden interest?
- Displacement would cause untold misery to them, their families, children and their future.
Response from the Government
- The government had given a warning to the people two years ago.
- There has been an alarming rise in poaching, cutting of trees and killing of wildlife.
- Environmental pollution has also increased.
- It is the government’s duty to protect the endangered species.
- The government has offered compensation and promised rehabilitation in alternative places.
- Offered jobs to the men.
- Both sides have a point.
- The Tribals have tradition, practice and decades of residence behind them. It is their world and life.
- Sudden uprooting will leave them emotionally disturbed, turn them into vagabonds and force them into jobs or occupations which they have never followed.
- The Government is right in its concern for wildlife. It is its duty to save certain species from becoming extinct. Poachers are having a field day, and every day the environment is threatened.
Suggestions: Transfer should be slow, not sudden. First, shelter and occupation should be provided to all the people. Education should be the primary concern. Only through education can the younger generation take to the new environment and occupation. Not one family should be rendered homeless and without means of occupation.