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Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and disputes over land, Tamil Nadu, India

Conflicts over land acquisition within and around Madumalai Tiger Reserve in violation of the Forest Rights Act.


In April 2007, Tamil Nadu state government declared Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary to be a tiger reserve, under section 38V of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, in an effort to conserve the country's dwindling tiger populations. The declaration of the tiger reserve (TR) was supported by a non-tribal community group, the Chettys, who live within the tiger reserve and who have begun demanding relocation as far as 1979 [1]. The conflict within this area is multi-pronged as the different communities have various demands. While the Chettys are asking for relocation [4], the tribal communities continued to resist and stay within the TR [1]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and disputes over land, Tamil Nadu, India
State or province:Tamil Nadu
Location of conflict:Nilgiri
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
Specific commodities:Land
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Mudumalai Tiger Reserve comprising the entire area of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park lies in the Nilgiris District of Tamil Nadu. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary on 11th January 1940 and later was declared a national park on 2nd January 1990.

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Project area:68,859
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:15,000
Start of the conflict:15/08/2008
Relevant government actors:Tamil Nadu Forest Department
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Adivasi Munnetra Sangam
Vivasayigal Thozhilalargal Munnetra Sangam
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Kattunayakar and Paniya tribal groups
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage)
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, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:Implementation of the Forest Rights Act and proper relocation with land compensation.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In this complex conflict, the voice of the poorest and landless is not heard and the FRA has been used in the hands of the most powerful one. Eviction is taking place without seeking real solutions.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

The Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers (recognition of forest rights) Act, 2006
[click to view]

Wildlife Protection Act (WLPA), Amendment 2006
[click to view]

NTCA Guidelines for Relocation from Critical Tiger Habitat
[click to view]

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

[5] Manasi Karthik, Ajit Menon. 2026. Blurred Boundaries Identity and Rights in the Forested Landscapes of Gudalur, Tamil Nadu. March 5, 2016 vol lI no 10


[1] Down to Earth.'Desperate to Relocate'. Author: M. Suchita, Aug. 17, 2015
[click to view]

[2] The Economic Times. 'Relocate people in Mudumalai tiger reserve within time frame: Panel to Centre'. Aug. 12, 2015
[click to view]

[3] Reuters. 'Thousands of protest against Indian Tiger Reserve'. Author: S. Murari, December 30, 2008
[click to view]

[4] Down To Earth. 'Delay on relocation of villages in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve to cost Govt. dear'. Author: Shanta Thiagarajan, Aug. 14, 2012
[click to view]

[6] Scroll. 'Tamil Nadu evicts Adivasis from their homes in the Nilgiris in violation of the Forest Rights Act'. Author: Sibi Arasu, Sept, 12, 2017.
[click to view]

[7] The Hindu. 'Tribal people evicted from land, houses demolished'. Author: Rohan Premkumar, Aug. 16, 2017.
[click to view]

[8] Down To Earth, 'Whose corridor is it?". Author: M. Suchitra, June 11, 2015
[click to view]

[8] Down to Earth, 'Nilgiris tribals allege they were duped of compensation' Author: Ishan Kukreti, 14 October 2019
[click to view]

[9] Down to Earth, 'Nilgiris tribals allege they were duped of compensation' Author: Ishan Kukreti, 14 October 2019
[click to view]

Down to Earth.'SC vacates Madras HC order staying issue of pattas to forest dwellers'. Author: Rajeshwari Ganesan, Feb. 04, 2016
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari, (ICTA), UAB & Shruti Ajit (Kalpavriksh)
Last update24/03/2019
Conflict ID:4124
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