ECOTOURISM AND CONSERVATION REFUGEES: THE INDIAN SCENARIOAnju Lis Kurian
Ecotourism has profound role particularly in emerging economies like India but the ground realities of wildlife conservation in India are quite uncertain and ambiguous. Protected areas are contentious as those are significant for conservation and these conservation initiatives diffuse fortune (for conservationists and wildlife tourists) and misfortune (for local tribal population due to livelihood jeopardy and eviction for conservation) unevenly. The mushrooming of protected areas across India creates conservation refugees who are the people displaced by the creation of protected areas; actually they are the victims of ecological expropriation. Conservation initiatives have a history of marginalizing indigenous people living in areas designated for conservation which made conservation most elusive today. The tribal communities are paying a brutal price for tailor made agendas to boost safari, create protected areas and attract tourism. Recent steps for eviction of up to nine million indigenous people in India who has ancestral link to the land and forest gains stiff opposition. Conservation initiatives that boot out stakeholder communities may preserve natural resources but denying livelihood opportunities. India as a developing nation with huge population cannot promote the scheme of pristine nature preservation initiatives due to the socioeconomic and political reverberations. In short, framing and sustaining vigorous multifaceted policies for protected areas necessitates honesty when considering its dooms and boons also there requires a readiness to share it with those who incur the costs will only has commendable outcomes.