The residents of Tikli are worried. The village is just 14 km from the skyscrapers of Gurugram city in the National Capital Region. But it is one of the villages that will be giving up land to the government for the proposed Aravalli Safari Park, which will house a variety of animals brought into the region, including lions, panthers, tigers and cheetahs. Residents fear that the animals might stray from the territory of the park and enter their villages.
This is only one kind of concern about the park.
Some experts point out that the very justification for the park is absurd. It is being planned as part of a broader afforestation project that is intended to compensate for the loss of 130 square kilometres of tropical forest in Great Nicobar, an island located 2,400 km away in the Indian Ocean. They point out that the idea is ecologically flawed, and further, that such a project is likely to spawn a range of conflicts over land control and ownership.
For Common Ground, Vaishnavi Rathore travelled to several villages in the Aravallis. She spoke to residents to learn why they are wary of the impending safari project, as well as to experts, to understand why they consider the project fundamentally unscientific.
“Usually, when I’ve reported on land conflicts, I’ve largely found contestations over the use of land for grazing, or collecting of wood,” Rathore said. “The scenario in Haryana was very different. The contestation was more on account of the increasing value of real estate, owing to the region's proximity to Gurugram. That added a very new layer to my reporting.”