The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Tigers versus Forestdwellers
A major conflict situation has emerged in the Protected Areas notified as Tiger Reserves in Rajasthan as a consequence of faulty implementation of the provisions of Chapter IVB of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972. The provisions clearly state that Gram Sabhas should be held and the people residing in these protected areas should be consulted individually to -
1. Determine the scientific and objective criteria for designating the core and buffer areas of such Tiger Reserves and for preparing the Tiger Conservation Plan taking care to ensure that the agricultural, livelihood, developmental and other interests of the resident forestdwellers are not harmed.
2. Determine whether the impact of the presence of the forestdwellers in the tiger reserve is sufficient to irreversibly damage the habitat of the tigers and threaten their existence.
3. Determine, in the eventuality of displacement being necessitated, the rehabilitation and resettlement plan and implement it to the satisfaction of the affected forestdwellers.
However, in reality these provisions are being violated by the concerned agencies as follows -
1. The designation of core and buffer areas and the formulation of the Tiger Conservation Plan in these protected areas has been done by the local forest department staff without the holding of Gram Sabhas and without consultations with the forestdwellers.
2. The National Tiger Conservsation Authority constituted under the WLP Act has unilaterally decided on the basis of research data not specific to the protected areas in Rajasthan that it is necessary to create tiger reserves of 800 to 1000 sq kms in area free of human habitation without conducting Gram Sabhas there and without consulting the forestdwellers. The NTCA has also drawn up a draft Rehabilitation and Resettlement Plan with the help of a Professional Agency without once again conducting Gram Sabhas and without consulting the forestdwellers.
3. The local forest department staff in the protected areas are unilaterally pressurising the forestdwellers to accept Rs 10 Lakhs per household and vacate their villages. The forest department staff have stopped other departments like the PWD and the cooperative banks from constructing roads and advancing credit to the forestdwellers and the Panchayats department from implementing works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
This is in gross violation of the provisions of not only the WLP Act 1972 but also of those of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Act 1994, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act 1996, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Rights) Act 2006 and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India the forestdwellers in the protected areas in Rajasthan are being forced out of their villages without following the due process of law.
The forestdwellers in the Ranthambhor National Park are Gujjars who have been staying there for over a hundred years and three generations that are still alive are shown together in the picture below.
The child has been draped in a Bharatiya Janata Party Flag as his lower garment but he is obviously oblivious of the level of betrayal that all these political parties stoop to when it comes to safeguarding his rights. The Gujjars are living on the periphery of the Park and have extensive irrigated lands with little forest around. Thus there is no danger to tigers from them. In fact they say that the tigers benefit from their presence because they can easily hunt and gorge their buffaloes. Yet as is evident the government is hell bent on cheating them of their entitlements for ostensibly saving the tiger. The forest dwellers here are the victims of an elite kind of environmentalism that seeks to secure environmental niches for the rich to enjoy eco-tourism and also possibly hunt tigers and deer on the sly by devastating the livelihoods of the poor. The village has a functioning community solar system installed at a cost of a few lakhs of rupees that provides four hours of electricity at night as shown in the picture below but that too will go.
There is a provision in the WLP Act that prevents outsiders from entering the protected areas without the permission of the forest department. This effectively means that the forestdwellers in these areas who are mostly ignorant of the various legal provisions that give them rights as citizens are being denied an opportunity to secure these rights.