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Eviction from Manas National Park, Assam, India

Local Bodo communities are threatened by eviction, while other Adivasi and no Bodo communities have faced eviction since the last decade. Are Conservation Organisations complicit in ethnic discrimination?


The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is a National Park, a Tiger Reserve and a UNESCO heritage sites. It is located on the Himalayas foothills of the North East state of India, Assam, and it is contiguous with the Royal Manas National Park of Bhutan. The Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage (WH) site is a part of the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot [8]. It also forms the core of the Manas Tiger Reserve, which is recognized as an important tiger habitat. In 1985, when Manas was listed as a WH site, it not only had a large tiger population, but also other large carnivores as well as diverse and abundant populations of wild ungulates to sustain them [8]. Soon Manas was engulfed in the politico-ethnic disturbance that started in and around the landscape in the late 1980s, whereby the Bodo community, the largest tribal group of Assam, was demanding greater political rights and powers. The violence that followed caused large-scale damage to Manas, with the habitat, wildlife, and management and protection activities suffering immensely. It also led to the local extinction of the great Indian one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) and the swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli rangitsinhi). In 2003, after a long and strenuous period of political negotiations, the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) was established within Assam, which provided the local Bodo community legislative, administrative, executive and financial autonomy in the Bodo-dominated areas of northwestern Assam. [8]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Eviction from Manas National Park, Assam, India
State or province:Assam
Location of conflict:Barpeta
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Biological resources
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Manas National Park was declared a sanctuary on 1 October 1928 with an area of 360 km2. In 1973 has been declared as a Manas Tiger Reserve with an area of 2837,10 sq km. It was declared a World Heritage site in December 1985 by UNESCO, and a MAB Biosphere Reserve in the same year. The core of the Tiger Reserve was declared as a National Park in 1990, for an extension of 500 sq km. In 1992, UNESCO declared it as a world heritage site in danger due to heavy poaching and terrorist activities.

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Project area:315,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2.250
Start of the conflict:01/12/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Society Vision & Mission (APFBCSV) from India
Wildlife trust of India (WTI ) from India
Relevant government actors:Assam Forest Department.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
International and Finance InstitutionsUNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from France
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:All Assam Adivasi Students Association (AASAA)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Bodo indigenous community
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:In Manas the conflict over natural resources has developed over several levels. People are resisting against the different plans of eviction by the government, but according to the ethnic belonging (if adivasi, muslims or bodo), can be considered a success or not.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act, 2006
[click to view]

Wildlife Protection Act, 2006 Amendment
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[8] Rajkamal Goswami. 2011. 'Conservation amidst political unrest: The case of Manas National Park, India' in Current Science.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5] Conservation Watch. 'India: Almost 40,000 people were evicted in the name of conservation in 2017'. Author: Chris Lang. March 3, 2018.
[click to view]

[6]The Telegraph. 'Eviction heat builds up in Chirang'. Author: Sumir Karmakar. Sept. 29, 2016.
[click to view]

[7] The Wire. 'Are Conservation Organisations Complicit in Ethnic Discrimination?' Author: Trishant Simlai and Raza Kazmi. Nov. 13, 2017.
[click to view]

Manas National Park: Those Living in the Fringe Areas. in Sahapedia. Author: Sayantani Chatterjee
[click to view]

[2] The Telegraph. 'Eviction in Manas begins today'. Author: Roopak Goswami. Dec. 22 2016
[click to view]

[4] Assam Time. 'Eviction at Manas National Park'. Feb. 18, 2017
[click to view]

[1] Mongabay. 'India’s Manas National Park illustrates the human dimension of rhino conservation'. Author: Bikash Kumar Bhattacharya. Feb. 13 2017.
[click to view]

Other documents

[3] State of Conservation Report of Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India) (N338) Official Government Report
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Eleonora Fanari. ICTA. [email protected]
Last update11/01/2019
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