Rehabilitating villages situated in critical tiger habitats is perhaps the most crucial task for the forest department authorities involved in tiger conservation works, however work in this regard is moving at a snail's pace in Rajasthan.
"Out of the twenty eight villages earmarked for relocation, only Bhagani village has been shifted till date. Work on shifting Umri, Sukol and Dabli villages is also on. However, the major problem we face is that these villages, after taking relocation packages, settle again in the nearby villages. So, the whole purpose of relocation is being defeated," said an official posted at Sariska Tiger Reserve.
In Sariska, relocation work at Kankwari, the village where tiger ST1 was poisoned, and Rotlyala and Kraska villages is yet to begin even after the Forest department already having the financial sanction for the work.
Situation is more or less same in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve. Only two villages, Indala and Machanki, have been shifted out of the park so far while the relocation work in seven other villages is still pending despite financial sanctions.
In Ranthambhore, Kalighat, Bhid, Kathuli, Hindwad, Mopr Doongari, Dangra, Bheempura, Mudarhedi villages, having more than 1,500 families, are still to be shifted out of the park. Forest authorities maintain they are in the process of shifting these villages but officials don't wish to come on the record.
"The lethargic Forest department is affecting the tiger conservation work in the state as nobody in the department seems to be bothered about the growing human- animal conflict situation. In Ranthambhore, villagers leave their cattle in the jungle to graze during monsoon while forest officials turn a blind eye towards the situation. Hoards of villagers coming out with fuel wood is a very common scene every evening in Ranthambhore," said Shatrunjai Singh, a tiger conservationist. All tiger conservation efforts will go waste if the villages are not shifted out of the park soon, Singh added.