4 April 2016, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), along with Prithvi Trust, Dhaatri Resource Centre for Women and Children and other organisations in India, have called on urgent attention of WWF India on the serious threats of forced eviction of indigenous Gond families for expansion of Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, Central India. Presently, more than 200 Gond tribals in Umaravan village of Panna district are being forced out of their homes and lands, where they have long survived by living off their land and surrounding forests, with the government authorities cutting off electricity to the village as one of the tactics to force them out of their houses and lands.
Umrawan village is only a representative case of 59 villages around Panna Tiger Reserve – 13 of which have already been forcibly evicted and others are facing threats thereof. The so-called relocation of the villages are usually administered with blatant violations of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, which clearly states that a village can only be relocated with the consent of the people. The adivasis do not want to leave their villages but are too intimidated to voice their protests. If all the villages are evicted, this will lead to serious disintegration of a large Gond population in the district, converting them into landless migrant labour with no social security or work safety or guarantee.
As per the information on the website of the WWF-India, the organization is supporting conservation work in the Panna Tiger Reserve. So, the organisations have requested more information on the involvement of WWF on the Panna Tiger Reserve and in particular on the expansion of the reserve. They have called on the WWF to seriously consider the violations of human rights of Gond people and raise the issue with the concerned authorities in India in their engagement in the Tiger Reserve.
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