Sariska villagers protest relocation



Sariska villagers protest relocation Jaipur: Hundreds of people Tuesday blocked the main entrance of the Sariska tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan's Alwar district, protesting relocation of their villages falling within the reserve, officials said.

The protestors did not allow the forest department officials to open the gates of the tiger reserve, leaving many tourists stranded and forcing hundreds of others to cancel their hotel and travel bookings.

It is the second agitation by the villagers in the past two months. They had staged a week-long sit-in near the reserve in March.

"The villagers are saying that the forest department had promised to meet some of their demands after the previous agitation. However, they say the demands were not fulfilled," a police officer told IANS.

Sariska has about 28 villages which fall in the critical tiger area and need to be relocated to improve the habitat. People living in these villages mostly belong to pastoral tribes.

There are about five tigers in the sanctuary at present and the forest department is planning to shift one more from Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur district.

During 2004-05, the forest department and the state government faced all-round criticism over the disappearance of tigers from Sariska, once a tigers' den.

A report produced in March 2005 by the Wildlife Institute of India confirmed that there were no tigers left in the Sariska reserve at all. Poaching was found to have wiped out the tigers from their once well known habitat.

IANS