"Rehabilitate tribals or allow them into parks"
Stanley G. Pinto
Mangalore : Tribals living in national parks should either be rehabilitated or allowed to stay on, provided they do not sell, expand or damage ecology of the forest, says Syed Abdulla Hussain, former deputy director (research) of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). Hussain is one of the members of the Rationalisation Committee for National Parks for Southern Region, set up by the Supreme Court.
This is a significant observation in the light of Chief Minister Krishna's meeting of Heggadadevanakote on Wednesday, to discuss tribals' problems. Hussain feels rehabilitating tribals in parks is a better option as one can't recreate virgin forests once they are destroyed. While sympathising with tribals, he says politicians are the stumbling blocks in allowing them inside the forest. He notes that politicians, to strengthen their vote bank, promise development inside the parks which defeat their very purpose.
He suggests that if tribals are allowed to stay inside parks, they can be absorbed by the forest department (provide employment) and their knowledge used for conservation of environment. However, facilities like health, schools and others should be located outside the periphery of the parks.
However, just because they are on the department rolls, it does not mean they can demand power, water supply, roads to their hamlets, etc. "They have to live as they are living now,"Hussain said.