New Delhi: Forest rights of tribals and the poor were being denied due to creation of buffer zones around tiger reserves without implementing the Forests Rights Act and sought an immediate halt to such moves, a CPI MP today said.
Noting that the 2006 Wildlife (Prevention) Act necessitated coexistence between wildlife and human activity in consultation with the gram sabhas, CPI leader D Raja said "none of the steps (required by the Act) are being followed."
"Driven by a series of short Supreme Court deadlines, state governments across the country are hastily notifying buffer zones around tiger reserves," he said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Raja said the Environment Ministry had not yet stated what activities would or would not be permitted in the buffer zones. "Moreover, in the time that has been granted by the Supreme Court, meaningful consultation is simply not possible."
He said this problem was compounded by the fact that in 2007, tiger reserves and some additional areas were notified as `critical tiger habitats` "without any public input or scientific study at all".
Observing that such moves had "already led to conflicts" including mass protests in several states over denial of people`s rights to minor forest produce, Raja said "I call upon you to halt this brazen illegality by the central and state governments" and to ensure that the apex court was informed of the actual legal and ground position.
"Failing to do so would amount to violating the rights of lakhs of people and ensuring that tiger conservation in this country is once again seen as an excuse by the forest bureaucracy to empower and enrich itself," Raja said.