The story is a long one. It all started with the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the river Narmada in Gujarat. Large areas of forests and along with them the wildlife inhabiting them will be submerged in Madhya Pradesh as a result. So one of the conditions for the environmental clearance given to the project in 1987 was that alternative wildlife habitats in the form of wildlife sanctuaries should be notified. The Narmada Valley Development Authority in Madhya Pradesh put up the proposal for setting up two such sanctuaries in the Mathwad Reserved Forest and the Katthivada Reserved Forest in Alirajpur district. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun was asked to prepare a feasibility report for the setting up of these two sanctuaries. The WII in its report rejected the Mathwad Reserved Forest for having a very high concentration of tribal population and sparse forest area but recommended the setting up of the sanctuary in Katthivara. The Forest Department immediately publicised this in 2007 and said that very soon the state government would notify the area as a Wildlife Sanctuary. Immediately after this the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath became active.
The KMCS activists first visited the affected villages to find out the awareness levels of the people there. While all of them had heard of the proposal and were totally against it they categorically said that so far they had not been officially contacted by any government officials whatsoever. They also said that they had seen some people from outside moving around with the forest guards surveying the flora and fauna in the area but these people too had not conducted any meetings in the village. Thus giving the lie to the WII claim in its report that they had conducted village surveys also and taken the opinion of the people.
The first thing that the KMCS activists told the people was that under the provisions of PESA it was necessary to hold Gram Sabhas in each and every village and take their consent before the Wildlife Sanctuary could be notified and land acquisition proceedings begun. S