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Group demands dwellers' right in GHNP before World Heritage status

Posted on Dec 05, 07:46PM | UNI

In the wake of granting World Heritage Site Status to the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), Kullu in Himachal Pradesh by UNESCO, a civil rights group has demanded forest rights for traditional forest dwellers (TFDs).

State convenor of Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, a pro-environment group, Guman Singh said in a press statement issued here yesterday that state officials were keeping the locals in dark over this development.

"We came to know that two teams of experts had visited the area for assessment and consultation during October and November 2012. They consulted only officials of the Forest department and NGOs but local communities were not informed so far," Mr Singh complained.

He said local groups like Himalaya Niti Abhiayan, The Sahara, Friends of Tirthan Society and Saraj Tourism Development were struggling for maintenance of their traditional forest and cultural rights in the 754.4 sq km forest zone falling in the GHNP.

TFDs depend on this area for their daily activities and livelihood like NTFP (None timber forest products), grassing and wood or timber for agriculture appliances and house construction, Mr Singh informed.

About 300 affected household were awarded compensation under 'Anderson Forest Settlement Report-1884,' which was questionable under law, the convenor noted.