In a proposal, noted wildlife conservationist Girdhar Kulkarni has asked the Karnataka government to issue ‘Project Displaced Persons’ Certificates’ to forest dwellers and tribals who voluntarily want to rehabilitate outside tiger reserves, national parks and forest areas.
The proposal, addressed to Karnataka Environment Minister Eshwar Khandre and state Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda, claimed that forest dwellers and tribals living in various tiger reserves, national parks, sanctuaries and forest areas of the state are ready to come out of the forest areas for their welfare and development, which would ultimately help in reducing the pressure on the forests.
Kulkarni said that issuance of the certificates will help the beneficiaries get appropriate reservations in jobs and education as well as various benefits of the government schemes. He added that the initiative will not only improve the wildlife habitats but also reduce human-wildlife conflicts.
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“The next generation of forest dwellers and tribals will join the mainstream of society and help shape their bright future. The process of relocating and rehabilitating the forest dwellers and tribal people who are willing is already being implemented in various parts of the country, including Karnataka. In order to facilitate the resettled people to benefit from various schemes of the government and to implement the rehabilitation scheme more effectively, there is a scheme of giving ‘Project Displaced Persons’ Certificates’ to such forest dwellers and tribals who are rehabilitated in the state of Maharashtra which has notified ‘The Maharashtra Project Affected Persons Rehabilitation Act, 1999 :(MAHARASHTRA ACT No. XI OF 2001)’,” Kulkarni’s proposal read.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had in 2010 issued guidelines asking all states to follow the example of Maharashtra in issuing such certificates to the rehabilitated forest dwellers and tribals.
Presently in Karnataka, the families that choose to move out of forest areas are given two options. Firstly, the state government gives financial assistance of Rs 15 lakh to the families who volunteer to move out of protected areas without the help of the forest department. The second option is relocation by the forest department along with a package of Rs 15 lakh under which houses are constructed along with amenities.