Members of Malekudiya tribe and other villagers from areas that come under the Elephant Corridor Project — to be undertaken by the Wildlife Division of the Forest Department — staged a protest in Belthangady on Wednesday. The protesters raised issues such as the lack of development work with the grant announced for Naxal-hit areas, and ill-treatment by Forest officials.
People from Kuthloor, Naravi, Neriya, and Shishila gathered at the office of the Range Forest Officer (RFO) of the Wildlife Division, expressing their fear over losing their lands to the proposed Elephant Corridor and the Tiger Project of the Kudremukh National Park (KNP). They raised slogans against the Government for “coming up with new schemes to force the tribal people out”.
The RFO, Dinesh, pacified the irate protesters, and clarified on a few “misconceptions” among the people of the villages. “The Elephant Corridor is not a new project. It was a notified area since 1900, starting at Bandipur and Mysore Reserve Forests, up Shiradi and Charmadi Ghats towards Shimoga, Belgaum, and Maharashtra. This was the way elephants used to travel before obstructions such as dams and roads came. We will only rejuvenate this trail so that the elephants can be dispersed evenly. There will be no land acquisition or displacement of villages,” he said.
On Tiger Project, Mr. Dinesh said KNP would “in all probability not get the tag” as it did not fulfil any of the criteria for the Project Tiger.