Ranchi, July 2: The forest department will tomorrow send 18 villagers from the core areas of Palamau Tiger Reserve to Satpura in Madhya Pradesh to allay their fears over relocation after interacting with people who have gladly moved from wildlife habitat to new homes.
The authorities at Palamau reserve said the weeklong visit of the villagers of Kujrum, Meral and Latoo, who will be accompanied by forest officials, was aimed at sensitising them on the need to relocate from prohibited tiger territories.
Divisional forest officer (core) of Palamau reserve Premjit Anand said, “The sole aim of taking villagers to a tiger reserve is to show them how human relocation was successfully done in another state. The 18 villagers will be free to talk with local residents in Satpura to get a first-hand account.”
In Satpura, residents of a dozen-odd villages were relocated in 2003-04.
“After talking to the locals, we feel the villagers will be assured that relocation isn’t a move to deprive them of land.” Anand, who will lead the trip, said, adding that around 80-90 households needed to be shifted from the core regions at the Palamau reserve.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) mandates that tiger reserves should be freed of human population. But, the state forest department has failed to relocate the Palamau villagers in the last couple of years, their efforts hindered by protests and a laggard system.
In 2010, forest officials began counselling villagers about the need to relocate, promising Rs 10 lakh to every household in accordance with NTCA rules. But the plan has been stalled, leading to brickbats from the Centre.
However, the fresh move comes in the wake of additional inspector-general of NTCA G.K. Govarikar’s inspection tour to the tiger reserve two days ago. “It was evident that he wasn’t happy with the way our government takes up conservation activities,” said an official.