Catholic bishops have joined indigenous people in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand to oppose a planned corridor for wildlife as it threatens to displace around 25,000 people.
Bishop Vincent Barwa of Simdega, who is based in Jharkhand, says the people are bewildered "because on one hand the government claims to be acting to protect the forest and tribal people, but on the other it moves to displace them".
The government says the three-kilometre wide corridor is intended to help elephants. However, Bishop Barwa has accused the government of favouring companies wanting to develop a tourism project. The state tourism department has drawn up plans to set up cable cars, adventure tourism programs, activity camps and malls at scenic spots across Jharkhand.
The work has started and officials are now issuing notices to people to move away, the bishop said. "But we don't know where they should go since the government has not given them an alternative”, he said, and, although there have been promises of compensation “when and where they will get it is not clear".
PICTURE: A group of wild Asiatic elephants swim and feed on water plants in a lake at Thakurkuchi, on the outskirts of Guwahati ©PA