Forest Village

Forest Village :

In 1894 cultivators were first allowed to settle in the forest in connection with the scheme of taungya sowings. About 1904 establishment of forest villages became a regular policy and very large numbers of forest villagers were allowed to settle in the forest. Forest villagers were found very useful for undertaking cultural operations in the forest and also for fire protection purposes. Initially there was not sufficient control over the amount of land a villager might cultivate and number of cattle he might keep.

In 1912 rules were made limiting the cultivation and homestead land to 2½ acres in plains and 1 ½ acres in hills per family. Each household was allowed to keep not more than 2 plough cattle, 2 milch cow and 4 calves; 2 goats/ sheeps may be allowed provided that they are always stall fed. As a result of this restriction all the undesirable villagers left but the useful villagers in nearly all cases returned shortly agreeing to abide by the rules.

At present there are 37 forest villages existing in this Reserve with a total strength of 2948 families of which 1011 are agreement holder. (Needs updating as per latest census). These forest villages were looked after by the Forest Village Development Division created in 1988 with HQ at Jalpaiguri. The forest villagers have been provided with wooden departmental quarters in most cases. Construction of wooden huts has been started from the year 1947 – 48 and has continued till 1960 – 61. Further welfare measures have been undertaken in the forest villages by providing ring wells, construction of pipelines for supply of water and also by providing primary schools and teacher’s quarters to cater to the requirement of forest villagers. Forest villages come under the Panchayat system from 1998. Since then development is being look after by Panchayat Raj system though tiger Reserve provides villagers with amenities through Joint Forest Management system.