Target: India’s Minister of the Environment, Prakash Javadekar
Goal: Ensure that indigenous people are not being illegally evicted from their homes.
Indigenous people are reportedly being forcibly evicted from their homes in India. These people, members of the Baiga and Gond tribes that live in the Kahna Tiger Reserve, were allegedly told that if they did not leave their homes, the forest department would release elephants onto their property to destroy their houses and crops. Urge government officials to launch an immediate investigation to ensure that the rights of indigenous people are being protected.
Survival International, an indigenous rights group, claims that these families have been forcibly evacuated without a source of income, and that only some received any compensation for their property. However, the tiger reserve’s field director claims that the allegations are false, and that 1,200 villagers have received the equivalent of $16,000 in compensation. He also claimed that forced relocation is impossible to enforce, and that the villagers were happy to go.
If these people are being forcibly evicted from their homes, that constitutes a violation of India’s Forest Rights Act, which allows forest-dwelling communities to live in forests that do not threaten wildlife conservation. According to Survival International, up to 3,000 people have been evicted from their property—a significantly higher number than the tiger reserve’s field director stated. And while the forest service claims that people can’t be forcibly evicted, that statement appears to be false, as the the indigenous rights group states that villagers have been threatened with the loss of what little property they have.
If the allegations are true, the families have been forcibly evicted and deserve compensation for the loss of their property and land. The Forest Rights Act states that any evictions that result from interference with wildlife conservation are entitled to full compensation and a secure livelihood, something Survival International claims is not taking place.
Currently, both Survival International and the Kahna Tiger Reserve are making disagreeing claims. These claims deserve investigation, including speaking with the indigenous people who have allegedly been forced off of their land. The exploitation of indigenous people around the world is an ongoing problem, and these allegations cannot go on uninvestigated. Ask India’s Minster of Environment to investigate the claims and ensure that, if evictions are taking place, they are compliant with the Forest Rights Act.
Dear Mr. Javadekar,
According to the Forest Rights Act, indigenous people are allowed to live in the forests of India, provided their presence does not interfere with wildlife conservation. According to allegations by Survival International, an indigenous rights group, villagers living on the Kahna Tiger Reserve are being forcibly evicted without compensation for their land and property. This is in direct violation of the Forest Rights Act, which says that, if forest-dwellers are interfering with conservation efforts, they can be asked to relocate, but only if they consent, and only if they are compensated and provided with a secure livelihood.
According to Survival International, that isn’t taking place. It claims that villagers were told that elephants would be released to trample their crops and homes if they did not leave, and that many of these people have not been compensated. If these claims are true, this is in direct conflict with the Forest Rights Act.
Please use your power as Minister of the Environment to investigate these claims and ensure that the Kahna Tiger Reserve is in compliance with the Forest Rights Act.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Altaipanther via Wikimedia Commons