MILLIONS of tribal forest dwellers in India are facing eviction after a ruling by the country’s supreme court.
The order affects more than 1.1 million households, with experts estimate this could mean more than 8 million people will now be evicted.
Survival A man from the Soliga tribe worships at a sacred site, now inside a tiger reserve
That number could rise as a number of Indian states have yet to provide numbers on how many people will be affected.
Survival International, which campaigns for the rights of tribal people, condemned the evictions.
“This judgement is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in India, land theft on an epic scale, and a monumental injustice,” said director Stephen Corry.
“It will lead to wholesale misery, impoverishment, disease and death, an urgent humanitarian crisis, and it will do nothing to save the forests which these tribespeople have protected for generations.”
The court ruling is in response to requests by Indian conservation groups to declare invalid the Forest Rights Act which the government didn’t oppose.
The law gives forest-dwelling people rights to their ancestral lands, including in protected areas.
This judgement is a death sentence for millions of tribal people in IndiaSurvival International’s Stephen Corry
Mr Corry said: “Will the big conservation organizations like WWF and WCS condemn this ruling and pledge to fight it, or will they be complicit in the biggest mass eviction in the name of conservation, ever?”
Under the landmark Forest Rights Act, at least 150 million people could have had their rights recognised to about 154,000 square miles of forest land.
The conservation groups said state governments should make families prove they could prove their claim to be live on ancestral land
They claimed tribal people in 17 states had encroached illegally on these protected areas, jeopardising efforts to protect wildlife and forests.
Land rights and forest rights have come to the fore in recent state elections, and unrest among farmers and villagers who make up a big voting bloc, could hurt Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party, analysts say.
India has more than 100 million indigenous people, who are also known as Adivasis, or original inhabitants.
LatestUNMASKED Teen who raped & killed Alesha is cat-torturing Fortnite addict desperate for fame LOVED TILL THE END Dad died with baby son in his arms after 12-hour cocaine and booze binge monster Alesha’s killer caught on mum’s CCTV returning home to shower after rape & murder TARGET Alesha MacPhail’s killer ‘has price on his head’ after rape and murder of girl, six NO-GO ZONE ISIS bride uses ‘sick’ baby to try to get in UK & says he can’t go without her GONE TOO SOON Army tragedy as young squaddie is found dead in a field yards from barracks
Opposition leaders had earlier written to the Tribal Affairs minister, saying they were “dismayed at the utterly indifferent and callous attitude” of the federal government in relation to case.
Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party which had enacted Forest Rights Act, had earlier criticised the government for being “a silent spectator” in the Supreme Court.
“It is showing its intention of driving out hundreds of thousands of tribals and poor farmers from the forests,” he tweeted.
Survival This woman is a member of the Chenchu tribe and is facing eviction
AP:Associated Press A woman sits with her belongings after forest officers demolished her house during an eviction of tribes people who encroached on conservation area
Drone footage captures an unknown Indian tribe living in a dense Amazon rainforest in the far west of Northern Brazil
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.’