Tripura tribal parties oppose proposed wildlife sanctuary

December 29th, 2008 - 6:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Agartala, Dec 29 (IANS) Tribal political parties in Tripura Monday launched a statewide agitation against the Left Front government’s move to evict thousands of villagers for creating a wildlife sanctuary.The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), a political ally of the main opposition Congress, organised protest rallies and demonstrations in 18 tribal dominated places across Tripura.

“More than 100,000 tribal people in three sub-divisions - Gandachara, Amarpur and Ambassa - in southern and northern Tripura would be displaced from their homes if the wildlife sanctuary is created,” said Rabindra Debbarma, INPT general secretary.

“The respective sub-divisional magistrates have already issued notices to the 1,200 tribal residents of 19 villages to submit details of their lands,” he told journalists.

The tribal wing of the main opposition Congress and some other smaller parties also have threatened to oppose the government’s move. About a third of Tripura’s 3.5 million people are tribals.

“The tribal people were earlier evicted from their homes and lands when the Dambur hydel project was commissioned in south Tripura in 1974 from the three hill ranges - Atharamura, Kalazhari and Bhagaban tilla bordering Bangladesh,” Debbarma said.

Tripura Forest Minister Jitendra Chowdhury, however, denied any such move for creating a new wildlife sanctuary.

“We are planning to create a ‘Critical Habitat Area’ for the elephants and a few other endangered wild animals in southern and northern Tripura. The latest census has shown that the elephant population has gone up from 38 in 2002 to 59 now,” Chowdhury said.

The minister said: “In the past four years, 519 cases of ‘man-animal conflict’ have been registered and the move is aimed to raise the animals’ vegetation and fodder and help in their conservation.”

“The government will not evict a single family. Only some tribe-wise regrouping is likely to be done,” the forest minister said.

Veteran tribal leader Dinesh Debbarma, also the general secretary of the Congress’ tribal wing, said: “The Left Front government is once again conspiring against the poor tribal people to evict them from their home lands.”

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