By. Dr. Kodira A Kushalappa IFS (Retd)
Man and animal conflict continues in and around protested areas (PAs). Wild elephants destroying valuable crops of farmers have become a day to day affair making the farmers poorer and desperate. Any amount of govt. compensation is not a solution. Now we are hearing about tigers killing tribals living inside the protected areas. Wild animals and tribals were living together in the forest despite dangerous situation, but how long? We cannot keep the tigers tied to trees to prevent them from killing. We are not feeding them either. But once they taste and like human blood, they would become man-eaters. We cannot create another suitable habitat for wild animals. But we the people are more intelligent, accommodative, adaptable and flexible so that we could move out of the tiger habitat and live comfortably. There is no substance in the argument that we want to continue to live in the forest along with tigers and elephants.
Every human being wanted to make their living comfortable in this developing world with better facilities. But is it possible within the forest? In Nagaraholay there are 150 hadis with 7500 families. Is it ever possible to connect all the hadis with proper roads, build schools and hospitals, provide water and light, without honeycombing the dwindling forest and distributing wildlife habitat further? How to provide the tribals with suitable employment in and around their hadis? The government do not want them to continue to live like wild animals collecting wild roots, honey and fruits and selling non-timber forest products like grass and medicinal plants which are also depleting. Therefore relocating them to suitable places and rehabilitating them is inevitable. The pioneer and experimental relocating and rehabilitation of tribals in Nagapura, just adjoining the PAs, was met with lot of opposition by the so called tribal leaders and NGOs. Many tribals are still happy to relocate and will tell the truth only if we contact them individually despite the dramatized opposition by their so called well wishers. Few resist relocation to distant places outside district. They all require adequate briefing about the benefits of relocation.
Five acres of developed agriculture land is not a small asset though it is too much for a tribal family to cultivate and manage. Many have therefore already mortgaged their lands, unofficially though, for small sum. Now others are given only three acres of agriculture land from out of PAs. However some are still happy, if they are rehabilitated along the main roads with a house and a kitchen garden so that they could happily continue to work in the nearby coffee estates, as they were surviving earlier. Once their children are properly educated, they would look for alternate better jobs elsewhere than continue to till their allotted lands. Survival comes first then the sentimental culture, ancestral location, etc. How many hills tribes such as Kodavas are sticking to their native place and culture? Let us change and think of our future generations to live happily.
Source: CoffeeLand News