(Update written by Sourabha Rao)
The second day of our IFS training course began with the screening of a documentary film on Bhadra Tiger Reserve. Following this was a fascinating, interactive session with Mr. Gopalkrishne Gowda, retired IAS officer and Principal Secretary, Govt of Karnataka, known for his work in wildlife conservation during his various tenures in administration. He addressed the participants of our IFS training course, sharing his insights into voluntary relocation.
From 2000 to 2002, as Deputy Commissioner, Chikmagalur, Mr. Gowda led a team in successfully implementing voluntary relocation of families from Bhadra Tiger reserve, played an important role in closure of the mine from the Kudremukh forest and also an important role in notifying more than one lakh acres of land in Koppa forest division as a reserve forest.
Mr. Gowda talked about the efforts that led to the success of the voluntary relocation programme at Bharda – how the government institutions function, what are the challenges officers face, how to ensure that people benefit from voluntary relocation and the areas of neglect that need to be addressed.
Ms. Prakriti Srivastava, our Country Director, explained how significant the role of NGOs is in the voluntary relocation process as they can be the interface between people and government institutions and see the projects to fruition.
The second session was with Mr. Yatish Kumar, who is presently serving as a Chief Conservator of Forest in Karnataka Forest Department. He played a vital role in Bhadra voluntary relocation programme which is seen as a model for voluntary relocation in the country. Drawing from his vast knowledge and experience in conservation and Project Tiger, he addressed the participants of our IFS training course today.
Mr. Kumar said, “As important as ‘what’ we give the people being voluntarily relocated is ‘how’ we give it. Unlike projects in other fields, voluntary relocation of people is an emotional thing and therefore needs a human touch, and it needs a lot of commitment and dedication. When you want to execute a successful voluntary relocation programme, you should never worry about who gets the credit. Whatever the system, committed individuals can make a lasting difference.”
Post lunch, there was yet another interactive session with Mr. D. V. Girish, Founder, Bhadra Wildlife Conservation Trust & Wildlife Conservation Action Team, Chikmagalur, Karnataka. He has been associated with us as a conservation partner since 1994.
Mr. Girish asserted, “Behind the success of voluntary relocation of people from the Bhadra Tiger Reserve were the combined human efforts and vision of the Government of India, Government of Karnataka, the Karnataka Forest Department, the Revenue Department, the NGOs and the will of the people themselves. Once people were voluntarily relocated to new settlements, they were able to lead better lives with access to better opportunities and facilities in jobs, education and means of livelihood. As a consequence, the forest and wildlife of Bhadra are also thriving.”
The IFS officers made all the sessions more interesting with their intriguing questions which the guests answered clearly based on their immense experience in the areas of voluntary relocation and wildlife conservation.
We are looking forward to the next three days of the training and will be getting back to you with daily reports here. Also, we urge you to follow us on social media for live updates.