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Dudhwa National Park and the fight for forest rights, UP, India

Struggle of indigenous communities for recognition of Forest Rights. People launched a non-violent struggle against eviction. Women formed the Tharu Adivasi Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch to lead the agitation.


Dudhwa National Park is a protected area situated in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The area is mostly inhabited by the Tharu indigenous community and it has been a territory of struggle since the ’70s. Of the 46 Tharu villages in the area, 44 were relocated under the revenue status [1], and they were later converted into revenue villages in 1986. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Dudhwa National Park and the fight for forest rights, UP, India
State or province:Uttar Pradesh
Location of conflict:Lakhimpur Kheri
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
Biological resources
Tourism services
Fruits and Vegetables
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is a protected area in Uttar Pradesh that stretches mainly across the Lakhimpur Kheri and Bahraich districts and comprises the Dudhwa National Park, Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary. It covers an area of 2201.77 sq km. with a critical tiger habitat of 1093.79 sq. km which includes three large forest fragments amidst the matrix dominated by agriculture. It shares the north-eastern boundary with Nepal, which is defined to a large extent by the Mohana River. The area is a vast alluvial floodplain traversed by numerous rivers and streams flowing in a south-easterly direction. It ranges in altitude from 110 to 185 m (361 to 607 ft).

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Project area: 220,177
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3000 families
Start of the conflict:01/01/1977
Relevant government actors:Uttar Pradesh Forest Department
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP)
Centre for Justice and Peace (CJP)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Tharu indigenous community. Dalit population. Women organization.
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The Tharu people have struggled for a long time. The two villages which refused compensation for relocation has got their forest rights recognized. However, they are not able to assert their rights because of the opposition and violence from the Forest Department.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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

Wildlife Protection Act, 2006 Amendment
[click to view]

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

Jai Sen, 2017. Movements of Movements 1. Pg. 274
[click to view]

[1] Protected Areas Updates, April 2011, No 90, pg. 22
[click to view]

[2] The Times of India. Freedom after a century of struggle. Author: Ashish Tripathi. May 14, 2011.
[click to view]

[3] After getting Sarkari Mohar I am not afraid of Khaki anymore: Nivadha. Author: Nideesh J Villat. in Narada News. July 7, 2016.
[click to view]

[4] Will injecting petrol into anus of Dalits help save Royal Bengal tigers? in Narada News. Author: Nideesh J Villat. June 28, 2016.
[click to view]

[5] News Click "Tharu Tribals Continue Their Struggle for Land Claims in UP". Author: Sumedha Pal. Oct. 11, 2011
[click to view]

[6] News Click ‘Forest Department Pushing Tribal Land Claims Towards Rejection in UP’. The rejection of community resource claims has triggered anxieties among the Tharu tribals in Uttar Pradesh’s Surma village. 17 Sept. 2019, Author: Sumedha Pal.
[click to view]

[7] News Click. 'Forest Department Pushing Tribal Land Claims Towards Rejection in UP'. Author: Sumedha Pal. Sept. 17, 2019
[click to view]

[8] Down to Earth. 'How COVID-19 made forest rights battle tougher for Tharu women'. Author: Aditi Pinto. June 15, 2020
[click to view]

[10] Sabrang. 'Assault on Tharu women prompts FIR but forest officials flex muscles in UP'. July 4, 2020.
[click to view]

The Hindu. Villages in tiger habitat to be shifted. Author: Atiq Khan. March 09., 2008.
[click to view]

The Times of India. 2012. UP government announces sops for Tharu Tribals. Author: Ashish Tripathi. June 21, 2012.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[5] I am not afraid of Khaki anymore.
[click to view]

[9] Dudhwa National Park: Adivasi women's fight for their land
[click to view]

Other comments:We are thankful for the information shared by Roma Malik and Rajnish Gambhir from All Indian Union of Forest Working People, and from the Tharu Adivasi Mahila Majdor Kisan Manch, special thanks to Nivada Rana.
Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari. ICTA, UAB. [email protected]
Last update24/05/2019
Conflict ID:3981
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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