rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Business » PHOTOS: How bamboo was liberated!

PHOTOS: How bamboo was liberated!

Last updated on: April 29, 2011 15:58 IST

How bamboo was liberated!

     Next

Next
Aparna Pallavi, DownToEarth.org.in


A large crowd gathered at Mendha Lekha village in Maharashtra's Gadchiroli district in the morning on April 27 to witness a historic event.

The state forest department handed over a transit passbook to the village community leader Devaji Tofa, signifying the village gram sabha would henceforth exercise the power to issue transit passes for selling bamboo harvested from the nearby forests.

The passes are needed to take bamboo out of the village and sell it in the market.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh and Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan in Mendha Lekha on April 27.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The forest department had been refusing to issue these passes to the residents for the past one-and-a-half years.

Mendha Lekha was one of the two villages in the country to win community rights over their forests in December 2009 under the Forest Rights Act of 2006.

The Act gives tribal and forest people the right to gather and sell minor forest produce (MFP), including bamboo, in the market.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Jairam Ramesh along with residents of Mendha Lekha
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The village residents have been fighting for control over bamboo since then.

Over 3,000 people gathered to witness handing over of the right to issue transit passes. Those present included Union Minister of State for Environment Jairam Ramesh, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and state Home Minister R R Patil.

As soon as he received the passbook, Tofa issued two transit passes.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Jairam Ramesh listening to the problems of people in Mendha Lekha.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Its recipients were area MLA Namdev Usendi and Sunita Narain of Delhi non-profit Centre for Science and Environment; they had purchased bamboo poles from the village on February 15 when Mendha Lekha organised a symbolic bamboo sale to protest the forest department's intransigence.

At that time, Usendi and Narain had applied for transit passes so that they could take the bamboo back with them.

Speaking on the occasion, Usendi demanded that people should also be given the right to sell other MFPs like mahua and tendu leaves (used for rolling beedis) in the open market.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Jairam Ramesh interacting with residents of Mendha Lekha.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Tofa called for automatic recognition of right to MFP in all villages across India.

Political leaders gathered at Mendha Lekha were in a generous mood unlike the forest department officials who have been unwilling to let go of control over MFPs.

Ramesh called for minimum support price for 12 MFPs, including bamboo, tendu leaves, mahua and sal seeds.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Community leader Devaji Tofa addressing people who had gathered to witness the historic event.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Chief minister Chavan was not to be left behind. He called for transit passes for tendu leaves in addition to bamboo.

The leaves are another major source of income for forest departments. Chavan said giving forest rights to people is the only way to save forests.

Patil, too, called for community rights over tendu leaves, saying it would help increase incomes in the tribal and rural belts.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Community leader Devaji Tofa being given the transit pass. He can now harvest and freely sell bamboo.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

He remarked that people in Gadchiroli district comprise the poorest in the state though it has the highest forest cover in the state at 78 per cent.

The forest department's refusal to issue transit passes for bamboo was criticised by one and all. Ramesh pulled up the state forest department and minister for their anti-people mindset.

"If transit passes are not given, legal action would be taken against officials," he warned. He emphasised that the power to issue transit passes for bamboo must be retained by the gram sabha.

Click NEXT to read on . . . 


Image: Community leader Devaji Tofa being given the transit passbook.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     Next

How bamboo was liberated!

Prev     More
Prev

More

The principal chief conservator of forests of Maharashtra responded by saying bamboo will be included under Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas ) Act (PESA).

Usendi criticised the forest department for not knowing the provisions of the Forest Rights Act when uneducated and poor people of Mendha Lekha know it. This made struggle for bamboo necessary, he said.


Image: Down To Earth editor Sunita Narain being given transit pass. She had purchased bamboo poles from the village on February 15 when Mendha Lekha organised a symbolic bamboo sale to protest the forest department's intransigence.
Photographs: Aparna Pallavi/DTE
Prev     More