We requested Praveen Bhargav, Managing Trustee of Wildlife First, to field this question. Since many PAs are plagued by similar problems, we think that his answer has wide relevance and so we decided to publish a detailed answer in our articles section.
Q: I would like to know what kind of rights for worship are provided to tribals and forest dwellers (villagers) inside PAs? We have been recording the temple festivals inside Sathyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary over the last two years and the situation is one of absolute mayhem. Between 70,000 to 1,50,000 visitors, over 700 buses, trucks visit two temples deep inside the sanctuary. One temple, Karuvannarayar, is 18 kms from the Forest Checkpost and the Masi Temple is close to 45 kms deep inside the Moyar valley. Liquor flows freely, animal sacrifice is rampant, plastics, tree felling, open air cooking in dry scrubland is causing enormous stress. The land otherwise is a haven for wildlife with the highest density of tigers reported here. The Forest Department is a mute spectator. Kindly advice.
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