Tribals have right to live near wildlife sanctuaries: Supreme Court



NEW DELHI: The Centre would approach the Supreme Court to look into the rightful claims of tribals living near wildlife sanctuaries, while addressing the ban on tiger tourism. 

On July 24, the Supreme Court had issued a stern directive to nine states to notify core and buffer zones of tiger reserves and prohibit any tourism within the core breeding grounds of the big cats. Following the order, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs has received alarming reports of forcible eviction of tribals from near wildlife sanctuaries. 

Speaking to ET, Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said, “In the name of demarcating core and buffer zones after the Supreme Court order, the state governments are deliberately evicting forest dwellers from their land. We have received alarming reports of eviction of tribals from Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.” 

The minister said that the Supreme Court has not been kept informed about the ground realities in the wildlife sanctuaries. “Tribals have a symbiotic existence with wildlife for decades now. 

The states have not implemented the Forest Rights Act and PESA. Under these Acts they need to recognise the tribal’s right to their land. 

Now they are evicting them and depriving them of their means of livelihood,” Deo said. His ministry would now make a case for first implementing existing laws and protecting interest of tribals, while making efforts for conservation of the natural breeding grounds for tigers. 

The SC would hear the matter on Wednesday. Only Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Arunachal Pradesh notified breeding grounds and filed affidavits, after the court’s April 3 directive. The court on July 24 gave states three weeks to demarcate core and buffer zones but Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka are yet to respond.

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