• 30/07/2004

OFFICIALLY BANKRUPT One stove, one pot
What eco-development means to people in Nagarhole

When forest department officials find a handful of tourists staying overnight in the Nagarhole forest they put on a video show in the evening. For the last two years the same cassette has been played: Nagarhole's magnificent wild animals and forests, the backwaters of Kabini and tribals the department "saved' by relocating them outside the forest. This video cost the department and the Indian Eco-development Project (IEDP) about Rs 16 lakh; is inflicting it on tourists the department's style of cost-recovery?

It could be. Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka was one of the seven chosen IEDP sites. The project began here in 1996 (as in the other sites) and ran for five years. Then, after a year's extension (elsewhere, two years) the World Bank pulled the plug. And most tribals here are yet to recover from IEDP.

About 1,500 odd families of the Jenu Kuruba, Betta Kuruba and Yerava tribes live inside the park today in 51 hadis (hamlets). They survive today on a mix of running home kitchens, agriculture, hunting, gathering forest produce and daily wage labour. A total of 255 families, relocated outside the forest as per project plan, live on a patch of cleared reserved forest. Today, both sets of people seethe with anger.

Come inside the forest: Gadde hadi
If one is fortunate enough to avoid the morning guided tour to the forest, one can slip into Gadde hadi

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