Ancestral tribal land marked sanctuary area without consultation with tribals who live and work there

Smti Ngasi Mena versus State of Arunachal Pradesh and 8 ors, PIL no. 2 of 2014 | Gauhati High Court | |

Through a notification of 1998, a chunk of ancestral land of around 4149 sq. Km was marked under Dibang Wild Sanctuary. On this land, tribals use to carry out their commercial and livelihood activities. The illiterate villagers were not aware that their land was demarcated under the wildlife sanctuary. However, they were told not carry out their commercial activities. Since time immemorial, tribals have possession of land and same could not be disputed by govt agencies or private parties. Moreover, the sacred religious place of mishmi called “popu” was also demarcated under the wildlife area and there has been restriction on the movement of followers. The concern authority never acquired the land from the villagers and they were never paid compensation for acquiring the land. Smti Ngasi Mena filed PIL for re-notification, redemarcation/ alteration or boundaries of Dibang Wild Sanctuary by setting aside the notification of 1998 as to exclude village area for the economic/ commercial activities of indigenous tribe. More than 80% of villagers' economic activities area were carried out on land that has been demarcated under the Dibang wild sanctuary without knowledge or consultation of the villages located nearby. The court ordered that in the event of filing such a representation by the petitioner before the jurisdictional deputy commissioner, it would look into the matter in accordance with the existing rules and procedures and the dispose off the same as early as possible preferably within a period of 6 months from the date of receipt of the representation.