Tharu tribals faced with displacement
Patna: Tharu tribal people residing in 300 forested villages surrounding the Valmiki Nagar Tiger reserve in Bihar`s West Champaran district are facing likely displacement if a proposal to increase the area of the tiger reserve is implemented.
The tiger reserve area is proposed to be increased from 335 square kms at present to 599 square kms to create a core and buffer zones, an official of the sanctuary said.
CPI(M-L) Liberation leader Kumar Parvez said the increase in the area would displace roughly two lakh Tharus residing in Bagaha, Gaunaha, Mainatand, Harintand and Ramnagar areas in and around the reserve forest.
He alleged that apart from displacement, the people are faced with other problems like disease, hunger as well as persecution as forest officials suspect them to be timber smugglers.
The Bihar government said it had no knowledge of the tribal people`s likely displacement.
The Principal Secretary (SC/ST Welfare), Ravi Parmar, said that the Forest and Environment Department would take care of this problem if at all it arose in the future.
Ruling JD(U) MLA from Valmiki Nagar Assembly seat Rajesh Singh said the tribals` right over the forest resources would be protected under the proposal for the tiger reserve`s expansion.
Parmar said that the state government had unveiled several schemes for the tribals` education and rural and employment-oriented development programmes.
Keeping in mind the dilemma of the tribals - their dependence on forest resources for livelihood and fear of violation of stringent forest legislations - the government had set up an integrated Tharuhat Development Agency in 2008 to look after their needs, the official said.
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