Last update:
2018-06-07

Land and livelihood conflicts in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and mangrove forest , Odisha, India

A large mangrove forest with much biodiversity is the scene of a dispute between conservationists, small farmers and inland fisherfolks, and the illegal prawn industry.


Description:

The Bhitarkanika National Park, in the Kendrapara district of Odisha contains India's second largest mangrove forest, after the Sundarbans, covering 672 km2.  According to the 2011 census, there were 310 villages with 145,301 people living inside the park, which results in a high population density of 216 persons per km2. It was designated as national park on 16 September 1998 and as a Ramsar site on 19 August 2002 due to a large variety of endemic flora and fauna, including the leopard cat, sambar, salt water crocodile, python, water monitor lizards, marine turtle, brahminy duck, to name a few (1).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Land and livelihood conflicts in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and mangrove forest , Odisha, India
Country:India
State or province:Odisha
Location of conflict:Kendrapara
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Turtles
Land
Tourism services
Water
Shrimps
Fish
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Designated as national park on 16 September 1998 and as a Ramsar site on 19 August 2002 due to a large variety of endemic flora and fauna, including the leopard cat, sambar, salt water crocodile, python, water monitor lizards, marine turtle, brahminy duck. A mangrove forest covering 672 sq.km. The Bhitarkanika Mangroves are home to 55 of India's 58 known mangrove species. The mangroves harbor one of India's largest populations of saltwater crocodiles, and Gahirmatha Beach, which separates the mangroves from the Bay of Bengal, is the world's most important nesting beach for Olive Ridley sea turtles.

Project area:65,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:145 000
Start of the conflict:01/01/1997
Relevant government actors:Bhitarkanika National Park.
Ministry of Environments and Forests, MOEF (India).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society (MTMCS).
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Conservationists
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:There is hope that ecotourism in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary (BKWS) may be able to empower the local inhabitants economically, socially as well culturally. (8).
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Villagers find themselves placed between regulations and displacements by the park authorities on the one side, and pressure from shrimp farmers destroying mangroves, on the other side. Wildlife (e.g. number of crocodiles) has been increasing, so conservationists are pleased.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Orissa Marine Fishing Regulation Act, 1982
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Subhashree Banerjee, 2017. Economic and Political Weekly. The Tragedy of Fishing Communities: A Story from Vetka Village, Odisha
[click to view]

8. Madhumita Das. Ecotourism_and_Empowerment._A_Case_Analysis_of_Bhitarkanika_Wildlife_Sanctuary_Odisha_India
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

5. Illegal shrimp farming within the national park
[click to view]

3. Fishermen arrested for fishing in Bhitarkanika National Park.
[click to view]

1. Information about the National Park from the official website
[click to view]

2. 7 months of fishing ban imposed
[click to view]

6. Dual threat of tree felling and illegal prawn fishing within the national park
[click to view]

4. More newspaper report on the fishing ban for conservation of olive ridley turtles
[click to view]

Other documents

Map of Bhitarkanika
[click to view]

Ecological History of an Ecosystem Under Pressure: The Case of Bhitarkanika in Odisha by Subhashree Banerjee
[click to view]

A crocodile at Bhitarkanika National Park. Telegraph picture
[click to view]

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Last update07/06/2018
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