The relocation of Sunderkhal village to clear a wildlife corridor

This project is dedicated to wildlife and the people of Sunderkhal & adjoining villages who lost their lives due to human–animal conflict in 2010 – 2011 near Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarkhand, India

Kanti Devi from Sunderkhal on 6th February, 2010
Kalpana Devi from Chukam Gaon on 18th November, 2010
Shanti Devi from Sunderkhal on 9th January, 2011

tiger-in-circle
Nandi Devi from Sunderkhal on 12th November, 2010
Devki Devi from Sunderkhal on 29th December, 2010
Puran Chand from Maldhan Chaur on 27th January, 2011
Residents of Sunderkhal appealing for relocation

Residents of Sunderkhal appealing for relocation

The Village of Sunderkhal on the Eastern boundary of Corbett Tiger Reserve Ramnagar Forest Division – Uttarakhand

The Village of Sunderkhal on the Eastern boundary of Corbett Tiger Reserve Ramnagar Forest Division – Uttarakhand

Information

Sunderkhal village covers ~75 hectares of land within the Dhulwa Block of the Ramnagar Forest Division. Approximately 350 households dwell within the  Sunderkhal area, which includes Devichaur village. This human settlement lies on the eastern boundary of the Corbett Tiger Reserve, between the reserve and the banks of the river Kosi. This is an essential migration corridor for wildlife moving to and from Corbett Tiger Reserve. 

Managing Trustee of Sanskara in conversation with the residents of Sunderkhal

Managing Trustee of Sanskara in conversation with the residents of Sunderkhal

The children of village at a health camp

The children of village at a health camp

This proximity between humans and animals has had serious repercussions; most recently, six people were killed by a tiger which was subsequently put down by the Forest Department, and under present circumstances further human-wildlife conflict is feared.  Illegal firewood collection within the forest continues to damage the environment and exposes the wood-collectors to the risk of animal attacks. Food security in the village has suffered due to frequent crop destruction by animals which has resulted in strained relations with the Forest Departmentand the Corbett Tiger Reserve  authorities. There are no government schemes being implemented in the village, as government records state that the village is actually upon forest land that has been encroached upon by people from the hills. Basic amenities such as electricity, water, sanitation and irrigation do not exist, and the welfare of the local community has been compromised

It is essential that the village of Sunderkhal be relocated
  • To create a link within the fragmented corridor for wildlife, specifically for tigers and elephants. The relocation of Sunderkhal village will ensure safe migration routes for wildlife from the eastern boundary of Corbett Tiger Reserve, allowing for migration into the adjoining forests of Ramnagar Forest Division, without any hindrance from the village communities.
  • To ensure the quality of life of the local human population who are currently landless and live in fear conflict with wildlife.

Field Reports from Sunderkhal Village

A team of members from Sanskara visited Sunderkhal village in January 2011, after receiving reports that there had been a number of people in the village who had been killed by a tiger. The team found that there was an atmosphere of fear and terror in the area; people were afraid of getting out of their homes and children had stopped attending their schools.

Children of the village with solar lanterns

Children of the village with solar lanterns

School children boarding the bus at Sunderkhal  village near the tiger reserve

School children boarding the bus at Sunderkhal village near the tiger reserve

In March 2011, a survey was undertaken to identify the health issues of families in  the village; it was discovered that there were no health facilities available, and that of the people suffering from ailments, 80% were senior citizens. The local people were keen on relocating as most people had no means of income; little food was available in most households and there was very little fodder for their cattle.

Press Cuttings regarding government support towards the relocation of the Sunderkhal village, near Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, India.

Press Cuttings regarding government support towards the relocation of the Sunderkhal village, near Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand, India.

Every house in  Sunderkhal was subsequently visited by the Sanskara team. The Gram Pradhan Mr. Chandan Ram and the Principal of the Public Junior High School talked about the suffering of the villagers and of the terror created in the village due to the tiger kills. A school bus has been provided by Sanskara to the children of Sunderkhal to allow them to travel  to school in the neighbouring area. As there is no electricity in the village, solar lanterns have also been presented to the school children in support of the project.

A delegation from Sunderkhal village and the Sankara team at a meeting in New Delhi with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

A delegation from Sunderkhal village and the Sankara team at a meeting in New Delhi with the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

It was understood that the people were ready for relocation and wished to convey this message to the State authorities.Sanskara has been conducting a dialogue with the State officials of Uttarakhand and with the Corbett Tiger Reserve authorities as well as the National Tiger Conservation Authority about relocating Sunderkhal village. Sanskara has conducted a survey in Sunderkhal village for the process of relocation. The Sanskara Field Officer met with the Chief Medical Officer in Nainital regarding the possibility of hosting free health camps in Sunderkhal. Permission for this was granted and health camps were organised in the village th in collaboration with the Jain Video Mobile Van, the Health and Family Welfare Society and the Bombay Hospital & Research Centre Haldwani. In March 2011, the Sanskara team along with residents of Sunderkhal visited the Honorable Minister for Environment and Forests, Shri Jairam Ramesh, in New Delhi. The Honourable Minister and the National Tiger Conservation Authority  pledged to support the relocation of Sunderkhal village by ensuring financial aid. It is hoped that the process of relocating the village will be undertaken successfully by the State authorities. The relocation of Sunderkhal village will secure a corridor for wildlife and ensure a better future for the local people Sanskara has appealed to the State Government of Uttarakhand to re locate the village of Sunderkhal on the basis that the residents are landless ( bhumihin ) and belong to the Scheduled Caste. The State Administration of Uttarakhand has now committed to relocating the village. Sanskara is in the process of securing a unanimous agreement from the local people of Sunderkhal to help expedite their re settlement within Uttarakhand. In the meanwhile , Sanskara continues to hire a school bus for the children of the village to get to school without fearing the threat of attacks by wild animals and provides medical and flood releif when required by the people of the  Sunderkhal.

Meeting with the Chief Minister Mr. Vijay Bahuguna

Meeting with the Chief Minister Mr. Vijay Bahuguna

In dialogue with the village folk

In dialogue with the village folk