Mankidia tribe in Odisha as denied habitat rights inside core area of Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha under historic Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. State Forest Department had objected their habitat rights on grounds that tribals could be attacked by wild animals, especially tigers.
Mankidia is one of the 13 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) and is a marginalised group that critically depends on making rope with siali fibre that’s richly available in Similipal.
‘Habitat’ under Section 2(h) of the FRA (Forest Rights Act) is defined as area comprising customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.
Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. In 1975, Central Government had initiated initiative to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups. In 1993, additional 23 groups were added to category, making it total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and 1 UT in the country (2011 census). Among 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
They are identified by Union Government according to procedure in which state governments or UT governments submit proposals to Union Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Tribal Ministry Ministry selects those groups as PVTGs.
Simlipal National park
Simlipal National Park is national park and a tiger reserve in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. It is part of Similipal-Kuldiha-Hadgarh Elephant Reserve popularly known as Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve. Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of semul (red silk cotton trees) that bloom here. It was the second largest national park in India. Its reserve is part of UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2009.
The park has protected area of 845.70 square kilometres and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani. It is home to 99 royal Bengal tigers and 432 wild elephants. Besides it is famous for gaurs (Indian bison), chausingha as well as an orchidarium.