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Forced eviction, mining and dams inside Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India

Struggle against multiple evictions and resistance movement against mining and a water linking project within the Panna Tiger Reserve.


Panna National Park was formed in 1981. Parts of the protected forests that comprise the park were originally the hunting preserves of the former kingdoms of Panna, Chhatarpur and Bijawar princely states. In 1994, this park was included as India’s 22nd tiger reserve. The project was considered a failure and in 2009 it was declared there were no more tigers within the reserve. In March 2009 the administration rapidly decided to reintroduce the tigers in the reserve and as for the last study of the Wildlife Institute of India, the reserve has now as many as 23 tigers [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Forced eviction, mining and dams inside Panna Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India
State or province:Madhya Pradesh
Location of conflict:Chattaspur
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Mineral ore exploration
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Ecosystem Services
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Panna is a national park and a tiger reserve. The National Park was formed in 1981, and in 1994 the park was included into the Tiger Projects. The Critical tiger habitat was declared in 2007, for an area of 576.13 sq km. The buffer zone of the TR was created in 2012 for an area of 1021.97 sq km, after a Supreme Court's order. This for a total of 1598.10 sq km.

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Project area: 157,855
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,600 households
Start of the conflict:2015
Relevant government actors:National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
Madhya Pradesh Forest Department
Minister of Environment and Forest
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh State government
Water Resource Ministry
National Board for Wildlife
International and Finance InstitutionsWorld Wildlife Fund (WWF) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Prithvi Trust
Asian Indigenous People Pact Foundation (AIPP)
Panna Parivartan Manch
South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Gond, Yadav tribal people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
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, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Gond community is struggling for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and the recognition of their rights to live within the protected area limits.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Umaravan village has been evicted and the Ken-Betwa river linking project, despite resistance from multiple stakeholders, has been granted clearance by the minister of Environment, National Board of Wild Life etc. However, there are many roadblocks faced by the project in terms of Land Acquisition, Compensatory Afforestation, water sharing.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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

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

[1] 'The Hindu. 'How to Drown a Tiger', April 22, 2017. Author: Bahar Dutt
[click to view]

[2] Counterview. 'Forcible of displacement of tribals in Madhya Pradesh from tiger reserve: Activists protest move' July 27, 2015
[click to view]

[3] Counterview. 'As tribals are being forcibly evicted, Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh becomes heaven for diamond contractors', Aug. 6, 2017
[click to view]

[4] Economic Times, 'Ken-Betwa river link project to impact Panna Tiger Reserve: EAC', Oct. 4, 2015
[click to view]

[5] DNA 't's death knell for Panna Tiger Reserve, Jan 21, 2017, Author: Joanna Van Gruiser
[click to view]

[6] The Wire 'Ken-Betwa River Link-up Approved, Tiger Reserve to Be Submerged' Sept 22, 2016. Author: Nitin Sethi
[click to view]

[7] Hindustan Time 'Opposing Ken Betwa river link project may be the reason behind transfer of Panna tiger reserve director', May 9, 2015
[click to view]

[8] Newsclick 'Diamond Mining in Panna: Illegal Excavations and Inconspicuous Auctions'. Author: Kashiv Kakvi. August 28, 2019.
[click to view]

[9] Times of India 'River linking project a conspiracy to deny Bundelkhand of Ken river water'. March 29, 2019. Author: Deshdeep Saxena
[click to view]

[9] The Pioneer 'SC panel wants to kill Panna mine, NMDC seeks 16-yr life'. July 21, 2019.
[click to view]

[10] Newsclick "No Development, No Employment: Panna Tiger Reserve Is a Curse, Residents Claim". Author: Akshif Kakvi. Aug. 3, 2019.
[click to view]

Economic times 'Work on Ken-Betwa river linking project to start this year' March 8, 2017.
[click to view]

Down To Earth 'Supreme Court go-ahead for interlinking rivers', Author: Bharat Lal Seth, Sept. 17, 2015
[click to view]

The Guardian 'Linking two rivers threaten to displace tigers', Author: Janaki Lenin, May 10, 2015
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Subject: Calling urgent attention to the eminent forced eviction of indigenous Gond people for expansion of Panna Tiger Reserve
[click to view]

Kractivist. “Forcible” tribal eviction: Central India village draws international attention"
[click to view]

NDTV report on Ken Betwa river interlink project
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari, ICTA (UAB), [email protected], Akshay Chettri, Kalpavriksh
Last update28/05/2019
Conflict ID:4171
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