Tiger trouble balancing act gone awry

Tiger trouble   balancing act gone awry on january 1, 2008, the government after much vacillation notified the rules of Scheduled Tribes and Other Tradi- tional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act. The day before, it had notified "critical tiger habitats' in 28 existing and eight proposed tiger reserves. It scored on both tiger conservation and protection of tribal rights. A closer look at the notifications reveals that much has slipped between the drafts and the final legislation.

The forest rights act has also come in conflict with the supreme court's Central Empowerment Committee's recommendations on regularization of settlements in forest (see box: Court vs forest rights act).

The forest rights act has introduced a new category, the "critical wildlife habitats' within sanctuaries to be kept free of human habitation.This was to ensure that the rights of tribal people and other traditional forest dwellers would not be affected unless it was decided after scientific study that the area had to be kept inviolate for wildlife, in which case they would be relocated. The bill introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2005 had a different formulation for this conflict between tribal land settlement and wildlife conservation. It said that tribal people who lived in the core areas of sanctuaries and national parks would be given provisional rights for five years. If they were not relocated within this period, the rights would be made permanent. The term