Should villages in Desert National Park be relocated?

Should villages in Desert National Park be relocated? there is debate over whether villages, within the Desert National Park in Rajasthan, should be relocated. Park officials stress on relocation, politicians are against it and scientists say while people are required, development should not affect ecology. To resolve the issue, a meeting of political leaders of the area was held in Barmer in Rajasthan on June 18 and a committee was formed to look into the matter.

The park, which has got the status of a wildlife sanctuary, is spread over 0.3 million hectares, and sustains 73 villages, 62,000 people and 182,000 cattle. Politicians allege that park officials do not allow development activities like building walls for a school, roads or a canal within the park. They stress that since there is no wildlife in the park, development should be allowed. "There are no animals in the park. There is no point in arresting development.The management is sitting over the vast land,' says Sang Singh Bhati, member of legislative assembly (mla) from Jaisalmer. Agrees Kishan Singh Bhati, former mla: "Over Rs 12 crore has been spent on the wildlife but without results. It is a huge area we are talking about. Development of villages is a must.'

Scientists say that claims of