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
NameLand and livelihood conflicts in Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and mangrove forest , Odisha, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceOdisha
SiteKendrapara
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
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesWater
Land
Turtles
Tourism services
Shrimps
Fish
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDesignated 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 (in hectares)65,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population145 000
Start Date01/01/1997
Relevant government actorsBhitarkanika National Park.

Ministry of Environments and Forests, MOEF (India).
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMarine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society (MTMCS).
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Conservationists
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Application of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesThere 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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
Legislations

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

References

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

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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