India: Battles over Land

In a growing country like India, the dichotomy between development and wildlife conservation has led to battles over land. Many people have been displaced so that the land they live on can be used for other purposes. The state almost always offers compensatory packages or some form of rehabilitation, but figures suggest that these measures are not fully implemented—leaving countless people in the lurch. Due to its vast forest cover, India’s indigenous populations in particular have been mired in historical land conflicts. Over the last fifty years, many have witnessed their rights being sidelined in the name of wildlife conservation. 

This project explores the displacement and resettlement of tribal communities because of conservation projects like Project Tiger. The designation of inviolate tiger habitats within protected areas has forced hundreds of tribal families from their traditional homes. However, a recent tiger census reports a healthy growth in tiger populations, indicating that Indigenous people and wildlife do not exist in conflict with each other. Is it necessary to move tribal communities out of tiger sanctuaries? If so, have resettlement projects been successful, and do they help preserve indigenous culture? And where do the aspirations of tribal members themselves fit into this?