Villagers In Kawal Tiger Reserve’s buffer zone face eviction

Tribal voters in over 40 villages falling under the buffer zone of Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) in the Assembly constituencies of Khanapur, Bellampally and Asifabad in Adilabad district continue to be worried over rumours of their villages getting evicted as part of the development plans for the only Tiger Reserve in Telangana.

“We will question leaders who come to us seeking votes,” asserts Atram Letha, a Kolam bamboo artisan from Ravunur Kolamguda on the border of Sirpur (U) and Tiryani mandal in interior Asifabad constituency.

The issue has been hanging fire since the declaration of the 892 sq. km. area of Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, mainly located in Jannaram forest division, as a Tiger Reserve in April 2012. The plan for the development of KTR includes relocation of four tribal villages located within the core area with the consent of the inhabitants.

The government has offered a rehabilitation package of Rs. 10 lakh for each member of the family in these villages -- Alinagar, Dongapalli, Malyal and Maisampet which was agreeable to the inhabitants. Tribal people, however, grew apprehensive when an area of 1,100 sq. km. encompassing the over 40 habitations in question around the KTR was incorporated as its buffer area.

“Authorities say that there will be no eviction in the buffer zone but we do not trust their word,” says Letha. “We want leaders to settle the matter once and for all,” demands Jugnaka Ramu of Dampur village, which lies on the fringe of the buffer zone in Tiryani mandal.

“We do not want to be dispossessed of our villages and lose our livelihood,” Letha says. His fear stems from the rumour that his village will be resettled far away from the bamboo forests from which he ekes out his livelihood.