Last update:
2018-12-14

Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India

Many cases of murder by shooting or other means by employees of the forest department within the Buxa Tiger Reserve were reported. There was a dispute on whether the victims were members of a "timber mafia" or rather local tribal villagers.


Description:

Buxa Tiger Reserve is situated in Alipurduar Sub-division of Jalpaiguri District, at the north-eastern edge of West Bengal, India. It was declared a Tiger reserve in the year 1983 in Jalpaiguri District when it became the 15th Tiger Reserve of the Country. The struggle over forest rights date back to colonial time. However, wth the declaration of the area under tiger project, the restrictions imposed on collection of natural resources and the menace of relocation became a real threat for the local villagers.  

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Buxa Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India
Country:India
State or province:West Bengal
Location of conflict:Alipurduar
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Tourism services
Timber
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The total area of the Tiger Reserve is today of 757,90 sq km ( as per Notification 6027, dated 18.12.2007), of which 390.58 sq km constitutes the core area of the park, and the other 367.32 the buffer area. The limits of the core area have been expanded since 1990 when the National Park, which constituted the core area of the park, was 117.10 sq km.

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Project area:75,790
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:18,000
Start of the conflict:16/02/1983
Relevant government actors:West Bengal Forest Department
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Uttar Banga Ban-Jan Shromojivi Manch (UBJSM)
All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)
Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR)
NESPON
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Rabha indigenous group
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
Migration/displacement
Violent targeting of activists
Fostering a culture of peace
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The people are resisting, but the militarization is still very high in the area and people have not the freedom to access their due resources. However, thanks to the union of the local people and their resistance, the violence seems to decrease in the last 7 years.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Legislations

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006
[click to view]

Wildlife Protection Act, 2006 Amendment
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[3] B.G. Karlsson. "Ecodevelopment in Practice: Buxa Tiger Reserve and Forest People". Economic and Political Weekly. Vol. 34, Issue No. 30, 24 Jul, 1999.
[click to view]

[4] G.U, Guha, Tatpati (2018) COMMUNITY BASED CONSERVATION AMIDST CONFLICT IN THE DOOARS REGION OF NORTH BENGAL. Kalpavriksh Report.
[click to view]

[5] Soumitra Gosh (2016) 'Selling Nature: nature of Coercion, Resistance and Ecology' in Business Interests and the Environmental Crisis. Ed. Kohli Kehi, Manju Menon
[click to view]

The Tiger Game
[click to view]

B.G. Karlsson. "Contested Belonging: An Indigenous People's Struggle for Forest and Identity in Sub-Himalaya, Bengal". 2000. Curzon Press.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] The Hindu Business Line, Tribals falling victim to fire from forest guards, 27 August 2012
[click to view]

[2]Killing of tribal youth at the hands of the Forest Department in Buxa Tiger Reserve, North Bengal, condemned by NFFPFW. Feb 8 2008.
[click to view]

The Wire, 27 May 2017, Criminalising Forest-Dwellers Has Not Helped India's Forests or Wildlife. It's Time for a New Deal.



Instead of evicting forest-dwelling communities for engaging in traditional activities in protected areas and reserved forests, the government should use them for co-management. By Meenal Tatpati and Sneha Gutgutia (Kalpavriksh)
[click to view]

Aljazeera, 'Saving tigers, killing people'. Author: Souparna Lahiri. July 6, 2018
[click to view]

Rehabilitation package for Buxa Tiger Reserve villagers
[click to view]

Wikipedia aticle, with description of threats to the park (including dolomite mining, fires, cattle grazing etc)
[click to view]

Aljazeera: Saving tigers, killing people. 6 July 2018. Author: Souparna Lahiri.
[click to view]

Other comments:We are thankful for the information shared by Soumitra Ghosh of NESPON and the interview and discussions shared by the local activists and members of the Uttar Banga Ban-Jan Shromojivi Manch, in particular to Sundarsingh Rabha.
Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari, ICTA. [email protected]
Last update14/12/2018
Comments
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