The Mangalore Centre of Malenadu Joint Action Committee has opposed the proposed project of Greater Talacauvery National Park by combining the three wildlife sanctuaries — Brahmagiri, Talacauvery, and Pushpagiri — as one contiguous area.
Its founder-president Pradeep Kumar said about 2.20 lakh people in 120 villages in Karnataka and northern Kerala would be displaced if the project was implemented. The promises of rehabilitation could not be trusted as the people did not enjoy land rights on their present holdings. The tribal people who were displaced from the Kudremukh forests had not been rehabilitated properly even today, he said.
People in the villages on the periphery of forests in Puttur and Belthangady would be badly hit. Several villages in Kodagu, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Shimoga, Uttara Kannada, and Udupi districts would be displaced in large numbers.
It said the people would lose their constitutional rights over their lands, right to possess firearms, and tribal people would lose their cultural heritage and traditional habitat. It said the proposal was aimed at combining Bharhmagiri (181.5 sq km), Talacauvery (105 sq km), Pushpagiri (102 sq km), and other protected forests (800 sq km). In Dakshina Kannada, over 50,000 people would be displaced and about 68,000 people in Kodagu, Mr. Kumar said.
Mr. Kumar said it was a “billion-dollar scheme” conceived at the behest of capitalists and supported by UNESCO. In the name of protection of forests and development, big resorts, and animal safaris would be set up, the committee said in a release.
The release said hundreds of acres of forests had been sacrificed by the government by allowing power projects in places such as Kempuhole and Addahole. The projects had resulted in large-scale felling of trees.
Mr. Kumar said the proposal to have an elephant corridor was ill-conceived. There were dams built in the forest area which were in the elephant corridor and obstructing the movement of pachyderms, he said.
The committee member Ashok Subbaiah said people who had been protecting the forests all these years would be sent out of the forests if the project was implemented.
Keywords: Greater Talacauvery project