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Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharastra, India

Forced relocation of tribal communities from the inviolate Tiger Reserve area.


The Melghat forests are situated in Satpuda hills of central India in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. Apart from being host to a rich diversity of wildlife, the region is also home to a diversity of communities such as Korkus, Gonds, Gawlis, Balai, Halbi, Wanjari, Nihals, Burads and Rathiya. It was declared a Tiger Reserve in 1973/74, and later with the new regulations under the Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA) 2006 amendment, an inviolate area, or critical tiger habitat (CTH), was notified in 2007. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Melghat Tiger Reserve, Maharastra, India
State or province:Maharastra
Location of conflict:Amravati
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 commodities:Land
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Melghat was declared a tiger reserve and was among the first nine tiger reserves notified in 1973-74 under the Project Tiger. It lies at the northern extreme of the Amravati District on the border of Madhya Pradesh, in the southwestern Satpura mountain ranges.

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Project area:276,852
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:60,000
Start of the conflict:1994
Relevant government actors:Maharastra Forest Department
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:KHOJ NGO
People's Rural Education Movements (PREM)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Khoj and other organizations are pushing for the community rights, under the Forest Rights Act, to be recognized in their forest land. This to bring the community to control and manage the natural resources and the biodiversity of the area.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:As a result of the tiger reserve project a number of 2,952 families have been relocated. The majority have not been consulted.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[15] The Quint 'How Forest Rights Made this Maharashtra Village ‘Atmanirbhar’'. Author: Purnima Upadhyay and Aditi Pinto. June 5, 2020.
[click to view]

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

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

Community Forest Rights under the Forest Rights Act. Citizen Report by Kalpavriksh and Vasundhara. May 2015. Pg. 62/63
[click to view]

[1] Down To Earth. 2005. 'Melghat Malaise'. Author: Nidhi Jamwal.
[click to view]

[click to view]

[3] Times of India. 'Encroachers Evicted from Melghat Tiger Reserve'. Author: Vijay Pinjarkar. July 5, 2017.
[click to view]

[4] Down To Earth. 'Tension over relocation at Melghat sanctuary'. Author: Nidhi Jamval. July 4, 2015.
[click to view]

[5] The Times of India.'Nagpur' s Rohinkhidki village in Melghat to be relocated in 15 days'. Author: Vijay Pinjarkar. june 2, 2017.
[click to view]

[6] The Indian Express. 'Relocated tribals protest at Melghat reserve, return'. Author: Vivek Deshpande. Sept. 12, 2017.
[click to view]

[7] NDTV. 'Over 40 Injured As Forest Guards, Tribals Clash In Maharashtra Village'. Author: Saurabh Gupta. Jan. 23, 2019.
[click to view]

[8] Marathi Times. वन अतिक्रमणांचा गडद धोका. Jul. 19, 2015.
[click to view]

[9] The Indian Express. Relocated tribals protest at Melghat reserve, return. Author: Vivek Deshpande. Sept. 12, 2017.
[click to view]

[10] Times of India "Melghat to be 4th largest tiger reserve in country". June 15, 2018. Author: Vijay Pinjarkar
[click to view]

[11] Times of India. "NBWL asked to reconsider Melghat rail line decision". Feb.1, 2019. Author Vijay Pinjarkar.
[click to view]

[12] Times of India. "State okays felling of 1,760 trees in tiger path for grenade unit". April 17, 2019. Author: Vikay Pinjarkar.
[click to view]

[13] WCS India 'Voluntary Relocation is a win-win exercise for human-wildlife coexistence'.
[click to view]

[16] Times of india 'Grant of CFR in Melghat tiger reserve in contravention to rules, says DyCF'. Author: Vijay Pinjarkar. Dec 5, 2019.
[click to view]

[17] The Times of India. '98 Melghat infants died of malnutrition in September'. Author: Vaidehi More. Oct. 17, 2010.
[click to view]

[18] Article 14. "India’s Man-Tiger Conflict & The Trauma Of Illegal Relocation".Author: Kavita Iyer, 19 Feb. 2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[14] Ensuring a Fair and Sustainable Process in Critical Wildlife Habitat (CWH) identification in Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary: Interim report on Forest Rights Recognition and Ongoing Relocation. Submitted to Tribal Development Department, Government of Maharashtra. Committee for Monitoring of CWH process under FRA in Melghat Wildlife Sanctuary. March 11, 2020.

Other comments:We are thankful for the information shared by Purnima Upadhya from KHOJ organization.
Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari, ICTA (UAB), [email protected]
Last update24/05/2019
Conflict ID:3990
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