Udala: In a bid to free the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) from human-animal conflict, the Forest Department officials forcefully relocated 28 families of the Lodaha tribe staying at Jampani of Ambikadeipur village under Udala police limits, April 3. In a recent development, the relocated Lodha families in Similipal have demanded a permanent settlement or legal right to shelter. Reacting to the situation, hundreds of males including females and children of this tribe demanded permanent settlement Monday after discussing the matter with sub-collector Sushanta Kumar Barik, tehsildar in-charge Priyaranjan Jena and additional collector Manoj Kumar Sahoo.
Notably, the Lodha tribe is one of the ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ (PVTGs) found in Mayurbhanj district. The tribe has been residing in the region for generations, but the authorities relocated them after locals demanded to make way for the Simlipal National Park and Tiger Reserve. It is pertinent to mention here that the locals had taken the forest officials hostage when the Forest department ignored their demand to relocate the tribe from the core area of STR. Later, the Forest department forcefully relocated 28 families.
On the other hand, Lodha families were promised proper rehabilitation and compensation for their displacement, which they have not yet received. They have been living in makeshift houses and facing numerous hardships due to the lack of basic amenities like water and electricity. They have also demanded compensation for their loss of land and livelihood. The families had been living in the region for generations and had a strong cultural and emotional attachment to the land. It is essential to address their demands and provide them with a sustainable livelihood and basic amenities