Eviction from Manas National Park, Assam, India

Local Bodo communities are threatened by eviction, while other Adivasi and no Bodo communities have faced eviction since the last decade. Are Conservation Organisations complicit in ethnic discrimination?


Description

The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a National Park, a Tiger Reserve and a UNESCO heritage sites. It is located on the Himalayas foothills of the North East state of India, Assam, and it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. The Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage (WH) site is a part of the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot [8]. It also forms the core of the Manas Tiger Reserve, which is recognized as an important tiger habitat. In 1985, when Manas was listed as a WH site, it not only had a large tiger population, but also other large carnivores as well as diverse and abundant populations of wild ungulates to sustain them [8]. Soon Manas was engulfed in the politico-ethnic disturbance that started in and around the landscape in the late 1980s, whereby the Bodo community, the largest tribal group of Assam, was demanding greater political rights and powers. The violence that followed caused large-scale damage to Manas, with the habitat, wildlife, and management and protection activities suffering immensely. It also led to the local extinction of the great Indian one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) and the swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli rangitsinhi). In 2003, after a long and strenuous period of political negotiations, the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) was established within Assam, which provided the local Bodo community legislative, administrative, executive and financial autonomy in the Bodo-dominated areas of northwestern Assam. [8]

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Basic Data
NameEviction from Manas National Park, Assam, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceAssam
SiteBarpeta
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific CommoditiesTourism services
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsManas National Park was declared a sanctuary on 1 October 1928 with an area of 360 km2. In 1973 has been declared as a Manas Tiger Reserve with an area of 2837,10 sq km. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by UNESCO, and a MAB Biosphere Reserve in the same year. The core of the Tiger Reserve was declared as a National Park in 1990, for an extension of 500 sq km. In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities.

On May 2008 the Department of Environment and Forest notified the limits of the area, declaring the National Park as a Tiger Project, and creating a core area of 526 sq km and a buffer of 2310.88 sq km. In August 2016, the limit of the core areas was expanded area got expanded up to 880 sq km, and for a total area of 3150.92 sq km. The park is divided into 3 range: Bansbari, Bhuyanpara, Panbari. The National park follows under the district of Chirang and Baksa, and the Buffer area of the entire Tiger Reserve fallow on the west under the district of Udalguri and on the West under Kokrajhar.

The core zone of the park is not highly inhabited. There are about 57 villages living in the buffer area of the Manas National Park. It is dominated by the Bodo people, and the National Park is part of the Bodo land territorial area. However, there are also many Adivasis, brought from central India to Assam from the British in the pre-independent period for the purpose of tea labour. There are many Conservationist NGOs working for the biodiversity conservation of the Manas National Park, such as Aaranyak, WPSI, WWF. The forest villages located inside the limits of the core area are considered encroachers.
Project Area (in hectares)315,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2.250
Start Date01/12/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesAssam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Society Vision & Mission (APFBCSV) from India
Wildlife trust of India (WTI ) from India
Relevant government actorsAssam Forest Department.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
International and Financial InstitutionsUNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from France
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAll Assam Adivasi Students Association (AASAA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Bodo indigenous community
Forms of MobilizationStreet protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Migration/displacement
Repression
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.In Manas the conflict over natural resources has developed over several levels. People are resisting against the different plans of eviction by the government, but according to the ethnic belonging (if adivasi, muslims or bodo), can be considered a success or not.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Wildlife Protection Act, 2006 Amendment
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The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006
[click to view]

References

[8] Rajkamal Goswami. 2011. 'Conservation amidst political unrest: The case of Manas National Park, India' in Current Science.
[click to view]

Links

[4] Assam Time. 'Eviction at Manas National Park'. Feb. 18, 2017
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Manas National Park: Those Living in the Fringe Areas. in Sahapedia. Author: Sayantani Chatterjee
[click to view]

[2] The Telegraph. 'Eviction in Manas begins today'. Author: Roopak Goswami. Dec. 22 2016
[click to view]

[5] Conservation Watch. 'India: Almost 40,000 people were evicted in the name of conservation in 2017'. Author: Chris Lang. March 3, 2018.
[click to view]

[7] The Wire. 'Are Conservation Organisations Complicit in Ethnic Discrimination?' Author: Trishant Simlai and Raza Kazmi. Nov. 13, 2017.
[click to view]

[1] Mongabay. 'India’s Manas National Park illustrates the human dimension of rhino conservation'. Author: Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya. Feb. 13 2017.
[click to view]

[6]The Telegraph. 'Eviction heat builds up in Chirang'. Author: Sumir Karmakar. Sept. 29, 2016.
[click to view]

Other Documents

[3] State of Conservation Report of Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India) (N338) Official Government Report
[click to view]

[click to view]

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Meta Information
ContributorEleonora Fanari. ICTA. e.fanari86@gmail.com
Last update11/01/2019
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