Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"...need to think beyond tiger vs tribal

Dear Friends,
The latest issue of 'Biotropica' - The Journal of The Association of
Tropical Biology and Conservation' has a paper
titled 'Conservation in India and the need to think beyond tiger vs tribal'.

If you would like to have a copy of the paper please do write me at


anurag modi said...

Dear Pankaj

Dear Pankaj
A nice article but the debate needs to be taken beyond this. So I m writing long reply .I need to correct u on one account, the tribal rights act will not give all the rights to tribals or will not undo the historical injustice as claimed or perceived by most. The fault is in the basic structure of the bill which even environmentalist are ignoring. The basic faults with the it’s limits the rights of tribal community to Gramsabha limits where as 90% of the forest falls outside the boundary of garmsabha. This will create problem for tribals as their nistars comes from forest as far as 50 kms beyond Gramsabha limits. In my article and submission to JPC had illustrated an example of the village Jodiamoo in Shahpur block of Betul district in M.P. where tribals get bamboo from the forest of Parsada which is 15 Kms away, babar grass from Bori sanctuary 25 Kms away and so on. The bill will defiantly give some relief but the basic aim the bill is not to give tribal people rights over forest and undo historical injustice but to remove the hurdle of tribal rights before leasing the forest of India to plantation Industries. It is not so that, as argued by those opposing the act, the land will come to tribals first and will be passed on to commercial forces. Today tribals are the biggest hurdle in their way because they know tribals opposed commercialization of forest during British time much before any environmentalist existed and they fought through out British occupation they even dint think twice before taking on British guns with their bows and arrows or many times even not that. Prior to 1947 all the save forest movements are attributed to tribals. Even much applauded BNHS was also a club of hunters. After the natak of settling tribal rights over 10% of forest will be remaining 90% of forest will be at government disposal.
The fight of tribal vs tiger arises because we have segregated the country in two parts one part of the people are given the responsibility of preserving environment and other one with everyday creating new ways to destroy it. Tribals are axed by double edged sword through one edge they are axed in the name of devlopment and when the so called environmental destruction again tribals axed through other edge of the sword in the name of saving the forest. When we know 20% of world’s forest are cut to print news papers how can any one blame tribals for that.
Actually we will have to give up calling tribal home as a forest, which is national property. We must relies that initially all the lands on earth was mostly forest and gradually people converted them in to field it was tribals who were contended with few acres of field or that time even dint need that as they could survive on wild animals and forest produce for most of the time in the year. Even what ever little tribal were cultivating was not brought under settlements b y British since they used to perform shifting cultivation. British with the stroke of pen converted lakhs of acres of forest belonging to forest into reserve forest. Let me remind here how first reserve forest Bori was created. British arrested tribal chief Bhabhootsingh of the area and confiscated all his forest of Bori and hanged him at Jabalpur jail in 1861 prior to it was decleared first reserve forest of India in 1862 and by 1864 all the tribals were induced to settle outside. It is all there in the working plan of forest department of Hoshangabad Division. Many documents contend the horrifying history of creation of creation of reserve forest. Later the Bori reserve forest converted into Sanctuary but it got submerged in 1972 –75 in Tawa Dam that no environmentalist objected to it. The displaced were not given any rehabilitation hardly any compensation as most of the land were forest land, when tribal protested in 1995 they were given lease of the reservoir as part of rehabilitation. Today under the pressure from environmentalist once again CEC has denied renewal of lease to tribals cooperatives. What do we call this. Like this after act of reserve forest enacted in 1878 in next 15 years 75% of land where tribal lived was declared reserve forest and this continued even after independence even till date. In urban or non forest rural areas people or allowed to use government land in various forget the restriction on entry. But it is not so in tribal area tribal cant even nature’s call since the forest he use for the purpose falls under reserve forest the path to his home pass through reserve forest. In this context how do tribal survive. I have very simple question for my environmentalist friends

(1) Do they agree British did historical injustice with tribals and basic aim of creating reserve forest was not conservation
(2) Tribals are most deprived section of Indian society and inspite all the government schemes even after 60 years of Independence there are 50% malnourishment among triblas and they are worst on all the scales of health and poverty .
(3) Tribals are less vocal member of society.
(4) Should we, in free country undo the Historical injustice inflicted on tribals by British?
(5) The basic reason of environmental destruction is our life style that is using more and more cars , air conditioned, flights, modern gadgets which all of you also using.
(6) Other than professionally raising the issue of environment how do you contribute by your daily routine to save the environment.

anurag modi said...

Shramiks belongs to Anurag Modi