Tribals relocated from Mudumalai Tiger Reserve stage protest

Published - December 12, 2023 08:06 am IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

Over 100 tribal residents of Gudalur in the Nilgiris took part in a day-long fast on Monday, demanding that the government take corrective steps to undo the effects of their “illegal” resettlement from within the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.

The residents of Puliyaalam, Naagampalli, Gundithaal, Mandakkarai, Nellikarai, Muthukuli and Bennai were among the hundreds of families who were resettled away from the tiger reserve by the Forest Department as part of what was termed a “golden handshake.”

Comprising members of the Paniya, Kattunayakan and the non-tribal forest dwelling community, the Mountadden Chettys, the families were given a choice of a lump-sum settlement of ₹10 lakh, or land equivalent to the amount they forfeited to the government.

Since their relocation, the communities have claimed to have been cheated out of the compensation amount and to have been given land on government poromboke land which do not have pattas.

Speaking at the protests, Suresh T.V, an activist who has been fighting for the rights of the tribal residents said that the communities now want to move back into the forests. “Failing this, the compensation that was promised to them in 2007, which is now insufficient, should be raised to Rs. 25 lakhs, and all members of the families above the age of 18 should be given this amount,” he said.

V.P. Gunasekaran, a member of the Tamil Nadu Tribal People’s Association, said that not only were the tribals in MTR illegally resettled without their approval, many people were given land on government poromboke land, and they were unable to get pattas. He called for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act.

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