Ranthambore is a National park situated in the district of Sawai Madhopur, Rajhastan. The national park was notified as a tiger project in 1973, and since then the process of relocation of its inhabitants started. Between 1973/79 there were 16 villages residing within the boundaries of the core area, and 11/12 of them, with a total population of 681 and total livestock of 3,879, were relocated from the reserve. Eight villages were moved to an area called Kailashpuri while three, Lahapur, Nagadi and Ranthambore, were relocated to Gopalpura. According to the forest officials, the people were happy to move out from the forest space, but according to several testimonies, the people were instead forcefully removed from the area . In the relocated space the land is found to be infertile, there is no water for irrigation, no schools and no health facilities nearby .
The process of relocation started afresh after a gap of two decades. Of the four villages (Pathra, Mordungri, Indala and Khatoli) remaining inside Ranthambore National Park, the relocation of Pathra has been going on since 2002. A total of 110 families of Pathra were relocated near Kailashpuri village in Khandar . After the implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and the new relocation package available, between 2007 and 2011 the relocation of the remaining 4 villages within the park area was considered a priority. The forest department persuaded the villages of Mordungri to relocate with a package of 10 lack of rupees per family. Out of total of 125 households of Mordungri village, 95 families opt for the Cash settlement package. The remaining 28 families, although coerced by the forest department to move out by accepting the cash settlement package, refuse to move out unless they were relocated elsewhere and provided with agriculture and homestead land (notes from the field).
The forest department abuses its power by making life difficult for these villagers by imposing heavy fines for grazing, impounding their cattle, barricading entry routes to the village, etc. But the villagers stand their ground and finally the forest department found an appropriate site for relocation. These 28 families have been relocated to a newly established village called Girirajpura, a village that falls under Amli gram panchayat in Aligarh tehsil of Tonk district. The people previously relocated from Pathra also moved here, as in their area the land was not fertile. At the time of relocation it was proposed to the communities: school facilities, land titles, levelling of agricultural water facilities in the house and boundary to their field in order to protect the crops from wild animals; all this has not been provided yet. In absence of state support on scholling, the Gramin Shiksha Kendra, a local organization, is running a school for the children of Mordungri, Padra, Gadhi, Kala Khora, Kathuli, Kali Bhaat - all the relocated communities in the area.
However, after 9 years of relocation, the villagers did not receive any land titles and are now struggling for their basic rights and basic facilities (info shared by Shubam of Executive Director of Gramin Shiksha Kendra, an organization working with the rehabilitated communities of Ranthambhor). Indeed Shubam argues that “although the relocation package has been revised since 2006, the relocated communities continue to receive the previous compensation package, even after 14 years from the implementation of the Act”.
In December 2016 a group of people from the Mordungri and Pathra villages went to Delhi to meet the Inspector General, NTCA, Mr. H S Negi and the Deputy IG, and Mr. Rajgopal Prashant, to protest against the poor relocation facilities and to discuss their case. While this issue has not been solved yet, the NTCA has already called for another relocation priority (notes from the field).
The community, mostly Van Gujjar, are now living out of agriculture, while traditionally were shepherds. According to local sources, the Van Gujjars are struggling to survive in this new location and their life has been harder than within the forest space.
With the notification of the CTH in 2007, the limits of the park expanded and now there are a total of 64 villages that have been identified to be relocated . In 2016, 5 villages, vis. Talda Khet, Kala Khora, Gadhi, Maharo and Kiradki, comprising of 260 families, have been identified by priority for relocation to secure the Ranthambhore-Kaila Devi corridor . Of the 65 villages in Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, four have been relocated, which correspond to 1238 families (Lock Sabha, question No 3405, 12/07/2019), and eight villages are planned to be relocated.