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‘No Forcible Relocation At BRT'
June 04, 2011
‘No Forcible Relocation At BRT'

The Soliga tribes may continue living in the forest, says Jairam Ramesh


4 June 2011

Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, has said that no family will be forcibly relocated from the Biligiriranga Swamy Temple (BRT) wildlife sanctuary.

“I want to clear a misconception that the relocation project is a forcible operation,” said Ramesh, at the inauguration of an event on Saturday.

“This operation is a purely voluntary operation, and families are free to choose whether they want to live in the sanctuary or not,” he added.

The Minister said should a family choose to voluntarily relocate, they would be provided Rs 10 lakh to enable them to do so.

“If families want to continue living at BRT sanctuary, then it will be the first sanctuary in the country with communities living within its limits,” he added.

The minister’s statements came as questions have been raised on the fate of the Soliga tribes in BRT sanctuary. The site is a protected reserve under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in December 2010.

Ramesh said that he had written to the State government to declare ecological sensitive zones around protected reserves, where economic activities will be regulated as per a master plan. “I have written to the Chief Minister to have these zones declared as soon as possible,” he added.

Safety at Jaitapur

On the controversial Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra, the Minister said that it would be implemented, but maintained that issues of safety measures needed to be addressed. He said that India had no alternative to nuclear energy when it came to meeting power requirements in future.

“We have to take safety measures. We have to review our safety systems in the light of what happened in Fukushima, Japan,” he said, referring to the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant where radiation leaked after an earthquake.

“Today, nuclear power accounts for three percent of our electricity supply. Our objective is to increase this to six per cent by 2020 and to about 12 per cent by about 2030,” the minister said.

Compensation issues

He said compensation issues raised at Jaitapur have been addressed by the State government which announced a package a few days ago, over and above the compensation offered by Nuclear Power Corporation of India. He said issues relating to marine biodiversity and livelihoods were being addressed by an experts’ committee that has been set up with Bombay Natural History Society.

“The prime minister has said repeatedly that only safe and economical nuclear power will be acceptable in India. So, there should be no fears on this score,” he s