Government authorities in India must intervene immediately to stop forced evictions of indigenous Gonds for expansion of Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, AIPP urged in a letter to them.
More than 200 Gond tribals in Umaravan village are facing a serious threat of forced eviction from their houses and lands after local police and forest officials descended in the village on Saturday and threatened to evict them forcefully if they do not vacate willfully in the next few days. The Gond people in the village have long survived by living off their land and forests.
The Panna District Collector had served the Gonds legal notice to evict in February with an offer of cash compensation. When they objected to the notice, they were coerced to give consent without written or accurate information for their resettlement and livelihood alternatives. They have not accepted the compensation amounts forcefully deposited in their bank accounts. Many of them have received title deeds to their lands while others were awaiting decisions in village council process of land titling that was ongoing.
The Gonds are one of the largest tribal communities in central India. They have been guardians of the forests for generations. Ongoing efforts for acquisition of their lands to expand the Tiger Reserve is blatant violation of their rights over their lands, forests and livelihoods as Scheduled Tribes under the Forests Rights Act of India and as indigenous peoples under international laws. The Gonds and their advocate organizations/individuals have filed a written petition at the State High Court demanding acquisition of Gond lands and expansion of the Tiger Reserve be halted and their rights be protect as per Forest Rights Act and other national laws of India. Hearing on the case is scheduled for 28 September. They have sent urgent appeal to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for immediate intervention.
AIPP, in its letter, urged the Ministry to take necessary steps, without delay, to stop forced evictions of indigenous Gond people from their lands and protect their rights over their lands, territories and resources, in consultation with them.
Click here to sign an online petition to call on Indian authorities to stop the forced evictions of Gond people.
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