VALPOI: The villagers of Charavne, Hivrem, Thane, Codal, Nanora, Nagargao, Maloli, Murmune and Paikul in Satari taluka, residing in the Madei Wildlife Sanctuary area bordering the Karnataka state are vehemently opposed to the idea of declaring the area as a tiger reserve as it will put additional restrictions in their daily life and lead to their rehabilitation.
Even those staying nearer to Valpoi, the capital of the taluka, are opposed to the idea on the ground that even their daily life could be affected as the area in which they reside could be brought under the buffer zone, which was mandatory and could restrict their activities.
People feel that in case the area was declared as a tiger reserve it would necessitate large scale rehabilitation/relocation of thousands of people and that the government would have to incur huge expenditure in the process. Besides, finding appropriate area for relocating the people and building houses and area for cultivation could pose a problem.
The people in various villages of Satari said that they have learnt of the area being proposed as a tiger reserve through news reports but have not heard about it officially nor had anyone from the government approached them to ascertain their views.
Given the resentment and the anger, it is quite evident that the government is likely to meet stiff opposition from the locals of Satari if it decides to go ahead with the proposal for declaring the area as a tiger reserve. There are hundreds of houses in the area, most of which are built of laterite stones and concrete in which thousands of people live. These places can be described as villages because of their remote location but their outlook has changed as the mud houses or thatched sheds that were seen earlier have almost disappeared and have been replaced with concrete structures. They have very good connectivity in the form of hot-mixed roads.
Besides, the villagers have raised plantations, farms etc over the years and they fetch good income for the villagers, which has made them prosperous prompting them to lead a very good lifestyle. Almost every household has a vehicle (two-wheeler or a four wheeler).
The villagers feel that the government by declaring the area as wildlife sanctuary had put many hurdles in their daily life. They feel that declaring the area as tiger reserve would put further restrictions on their day-to-day activities which could deprive them of their livelihood. All the villagers were unanimous in opposition to the tiger reserve.
"Those who are proposing to declare the area as a tiger reserve are not aware of the hardships we have been facing ever since it was declared as a sanctuary more than a decade ago," informed a group of villagers in one voice in Charavne. They said that it was easy for anyone to advocate location of such areas in the backyard of others.
Ever since the area was declared as Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, the villagers said that their activities, including farming, have been affected. Besides, the wild animals (bison and wild boars) have been playing havoc and eating away the farm produce, they said.
All those (numbering around 12) sitting in a tea stall near the bus stop at Charavne said that they would oppose the move tooth and nail as and when a hearing was held by the government officials to ascertain their views. Similar views were expressed by the villagers of Hivrem, Codal, Nanora, Paikul, Murmune, etc.
They were critical of the wildlife activists for "imposing" their views on the people of the area by seeking to declare the area as a tiger reserve. "The activists have blocked the move for a dam which could have helped us in irrigating our fields and also supply us drinking water, especially in summer when we face acute water shortage and now they want to declare the areas as tiger reserve and drive us out of our birth place," they said.


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