That the State has not undertaken any study to determine the tribal rights was revealed by the Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs in the Rajya Sabha while replying to a question from Shantaram Naik.
Given this situation, the State Government’s plans to declare wildlife sanctuaries as Critical Wildlife Habitat would spell doom to the tribal population living therein.
The Union Minister further pointed out that it was the State government’s responsibility to implement the Tribal Welfare Act and noted that the Goa Government has only appointed a nodal officer for this purpose.
In the absence of a full fledged department for the Tribal population, the Goa government has only conducted a training programme for secretaries of the villages coming under the forest area, which really does not make much sense as the secretaries keep getting transferred to different places.
It would be pertinent to point out that the State Level Steering Committee is in the process of declaring the Bondla and Cotigao wildlife sanctuaries along with the Chorao bird sanctuary as Critical Wildlife Habitat even though tribals living in Cotigao have strongly objected to this move.