As the debate on the pros and cons of tribal relocation from different ranges in the Nagarahole National Park goes on, 487 tribal families have moved out of the Park areas since the relocation scheme was introduced by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1999.
Initially, 280 families were relocated from different ranges to Nagapura in Hunsur taluk of Mysore district under the beneficiary-oriented tribal development scheme by the Forest Department, in association with LIFT (Living Inspiration for Tribals), an NGO. Each family was given Rs. 1 lakh in cash and five acres of land to take up agriculture. In 2007, 60 tribal families were relocated at Sollepura in H.D. Kote taluk of Mysore district, each getting Rs. 1 lakh but only three acres.
Under a National Tiger Conservation Authority-sponsored scheme in 2010, every family agreeing to relocate was offered Rs. 10 lakh (cash and land value). Thereafter, 147 families, including seven non-tribal families moved over to Shettalli in Hunsur taluk. As a result, all tribals who lived in Bogapura, Murkal, Ganagur, Madenur and Kallalla moved out, P.M. Muthanna of LIFT said. As on date, there were 300 pending applications for rehabilitation.
According to J.P. Raju, president of the Kodagu Budakattu Krishikara Sangha, which works for the welfare of tribals , the relocated tribals are not happy. Many leased out their lands to others for cultivation. On the one hand, the relocated tribals went back to the Kodagu coffee plantations for work, and on the other, measures to provide revenue records for the land were yet to be taken.
Mr. Muthanna said that during the lean period, even the tribals who did well in the rehabilitated areas went to work on plantations. Tribals who had grown maize at Shettalli sold the commodity worth Rs. 66 lakh this year.
Under the Forest Rights Act, of the total 5,387 individual applications received from tribals in Mysore district, 555 were regularised, said M.N. Ajay Nagbhushan, Deputy Commissioner (in-charge). Out of the total 107 applications received for community rights, 19 were regularised in the district. In Kodagu, 3,102 individual claims and nearly 57 community rights claims were received, and 1,112 and 45 claims respectively were cleared, said Deputy Commissioner N.V. Prasad.
Has the tiger population gone up in Karnataka? “There are 10-12 tigers in every 100 sq. km. area of the tiger reserves such as Nagarahole, Bandipur, BRT, parts of Wayanad, Mudumalai, covering around 2,500 sq. km. area,” said B.J. Hosmath, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, and Field Director, Project Tiger.
Praveen Bhargav, managing trustee of NGO Wildlife First, said parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were fantastic habitat for tiger-breeding and conservation.
Fifteen tigers have died of various causes in Bandipur, Nagarahole and BRT reserves since 2010-11 to 2012-13.
Of this, nine have died in Bandipur, five in Nagarahole and one in the BRT reserve, Mr. Hosmath said. Significantly, no case of poaching was reported in the same period.