Protest against tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu
Extension plans of the newly-declared Mudumalai Tiger Reserve are being opposed by locals as well as representatives of political parties in Tamil Nadu. The National Conservation Tiger Authority had recently declared the Mudumalai Sanctuary and National Park as a critical tiger habitat. This also includes the Mudumalai panchayat and part of the Masinagudy panchayat.
The Mudumalai Sanctuary is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve that extends across three states and is believed to be home to around 50 tigers. The protesters say that the notification of the critical tiger habitat is illegal since it was done without public consultation or the consent of the gram sabhas. They also ask that the Forest Rights Act be implemented immediately and that farmers be granted pattas for their land, and that people living here be given access to basic facilities such as electricity, housing, water, roads and schools.
They are also against the creation of a 500 sq. km. buffer zone that covers eight panchayats. Forest officials say that around 350 families living in the core area will be given a total compensatory payout of one million rupees. They are also attempting to allay fears that those in the buffer zone will be asked to move out and say that they will instead be provided employment opportunities as trackers and naturalist guides. In the meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has cleared the Neutrino project which will have an adverse impact on wildlife in this area.