6 Jul 2024

Seoni Madhya Pradesh: Karmajhiri Village's Historic Decision To Benefit Animals of Pench National Park, See Details

Residents of Karmajhiri village have made a remarkable decision to leave their homes and ancestral lands to support wildlife conservation efforts and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. Situated near the entrance of Pench National Park, these families have agreed to relocate to Jogiwara village, located just a few kilometers away from the Karmajhiri gate of the Pench Tiger Reserve, during a recent community meeting.

Opening New Grasslands for Wildlife

Karmajhiri village, which lies on the border of the core area, currently cultivates about 450 acres of land. The planned displacement will convert these farmlands into new grasslands, benefiting wildlife in the area. To facilitate this transition, the state government issued a notification on July 26, 2022, establishing the Karmajhiri Sanctuary. The establishment of the Karmajhiri Sanctuary has enhanced the management of the Tiger Reserve and provided extra habitat for both herbivorous and carnivorous wildlife species.

Ensuring Villagers' Welfare

Following the establishment of the Karmajhiri Sanctuary, efforts have been made to ensure a smooth transition for the villagers. They will be offered permanent housing and agricultural land in Jogiwara. Officials believe that the relocation will bring benefits to both the villagers and the management of Pench Park. Currently, wild animals frequently enter the fields near the forest's core boundary, leading to crop damage and posing safety risks to the villagers.

Risks Faced by Farmers

Farmers in Karmajhiri face significant risks, working in fields where encounters with wild animals are unpredictable. Tigers and other aggressive wildlife often wander the fields at dusk, threatening both humans and domestic animals. Additionally, the village lacks essential infrastructure, such as education and healthcare, exacerbating the challenges faced by the residents.

Financial Assistance and Resettlement Plans

Initially, it was proposed to give each family a lump sum amount of Rs 10 lakh from the CAMPA fund for rehabilitation. However, the central government has now increased this amount to Rs 15 lakh per family. Families who prefer not to take the cash amount will be given two and a half hectares (about six acres) of land for farming in the designated rehabilitation village.

Comprehensive Resettlement Planning

A total of 160 hectares of land has been identified for establishing the new village, ensuring the provision of basic facilities such as roads, electricity, water, hospitals, and schools. A detailed survey will be conducted to assess the current number of families residing in Karmajhiri. In a survey conducted eight years ago, 138 families had agreed to resettlement. 

The village comprises 50 kutcha-pucca houses with a population of about 300. Each family unit, including husband, wife, and children under 18 years of age, will receive the displacement amount from the CAMPA fund. Special provisions have been made for disabled individuals, widowed women, and abandoned women.

Villagers' Consent and Official Approval

Rajnish Singh, Deputy Director of Pench National Park, Seoni, stated that during a general meeting held a week ago, the villagers of Karmajhiri gave their consent for resettlement. Stage-1 approval has been received from the central government. After obtaining the villagers' consent, a proposal will be sent to the central government for Stage-2 approval. Singh emphasized that relocating the Karmajhiri forest village near the core area will expand the forest area, reduce human interference, and provide additional habitat for wild animals.

The collective decision of Karmajhiri village residents to relocate marks a significant step towards wildlife conservation and conflict reduction. By opening new grasslands and enhancing the management of the Pench Tiger Reserve, this move promises a better future for both wildlife and the relocated villagers. The state and central governments' support, along with the villagers' consent, ensures a smooth transition and improved living conditions for the affected families.

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