Samiti stages protest in front of the taluk office at Karkala

A large number of people under the banner of Huli Samrakshana Yojane Virodhi Horata Samiti (Anti-Tiger Reserve Project Agitation Committee) staged a dharna in front of the taluk office in Mangalore on Friday demanding that the Union Government give up its plan to declare Kudremukh National Park (KNP) as a tiger reserve.

Addressing the protesters, former MLA V. Sunil Kumar said that the State Government had made it clear to the Centre that it would not allow KNP to be declared as a tiger reserve. But the Union Government wanted to have a tiger reserve in KNP. Nearly 1,500 tribal families in KNP and 4,000 families living on its borders would be affected by the project. Many tribal people had been affected after the Kudremukh National Park came into existence in 1987.

Though the State Government opposed inclusion of 10 sites in the Western Ghats for heritage tag from UNESCO, the Centre had an opposite view. Now it was arm-twisting the State Government over the tiger reserve issue. The Centre should rescind its proposal on the tiger reserve. “We will fight against the project till it is given up,” Mr. Kumar said.

S. Kamalesh Nayak, president of Aranyavasi Hitarakshana Vedike, said that it was wrong on the part of the Government to evict forest-dwellers just because it wanted KNP to be declared as a tiger reserve.

Forest-dwellers had been living there for over two centuries. “We will fight against the Union and State governments on this issue. We will protest in Bangalore and, if necessary, in Delhi,” he said. Leaders of the samiti Andar Deviprasad Shetty, Muniraj Shetty, Jnanesh Shetty, Sundar Naik and Sudesh Karnik, and zilla panchayat members Uday Kotian and Mamata Poojary were present. The protestors submitted a memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister at the tahsildar’s office here.

In the memorandum, the samiti said that a large number of tribal people had been living in KNP for centuries and were dependent on agriculture.

It was wrong to trouble them in the name of protection of wildlife.

The tiger reserve project would include parts of Eedu, Nuralbettu, Mala, Kervashe, Shirlal, Andar, Mutlupady, Varanga, Kabbinale, Nadpal and Marne village in Udupi district.

This would affect people living in these villages. This was an “anti-people” project. The State Government had opposed the project. Hence, the Union Government should withdraw its proposal to declare KNP as a tiger reserve, the memorandum stated.