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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ongoing stir at Sariska spells doom for tourism

ByRajendra Sharma, TNN | Mar 12, 2013, 01.30 AM IST Sariska villagers block tourists’ entryVillagers damage man's houseVillagers rescue injured lionAasu homage to agitation martyrsVillagers oppose Angul power plant ALWAR: The ongoing agitation of villagers has spelled doom for tourism industry at Sariska tiger reserve with the mass protest against relocation of their villages entering 13th day on Tuesday. Nearly 2,500 villagers who stay around the national park have been blocking its main entrance not allowing tourists entry since February 28. They threatened on Monday that the stir would be intensified as their peaceful agitation has failed to create any impact on the administration officials. Nearly 50 villages are yet to be relocated from the reserve area. The administration has put a ban on registry of land in these villagers and other surrounding areas which also the villagers are opposing. About 2500 residents of these 50 villages have been organising an indefinite sit-in at the reserve against the alleged "cheating" by the district administration . The villagers alleged that they had called off the agitation in May last year when the district administration agreed on some of their demands including lifting ban on the registry of land, construction of a concrete road and earmarking a grazing area. "But now they have backtracked and are expressing ignorance if any consensus was reached," said Jaikishan Gujjar, a villager. The tourists had started flocking the park after the number of tigers in Sariska reached seven with relocation of two tigers from Ranthambore in January. "More tourists were coming to Sariska as tiger sighting had become comparatively easier after relocation of two more tigers. However, with villagers block the park's entrance, the tourism industry has suffered a beating. Hotel and other bookings have been cancelled in the past 12 days," said Kailash Chand, a tour operator. Since 2008, the farmers in the periphery of the reserve have been showing their anger against the state government and wildlife authorities' decision to relocate them. The villagers leave their cattle to graze in the sanctuary area leading to frequent confrontations with forest guards and officials. It is the third time in the past eight months that the villagers have launched an agitation against the relocation.

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