Deccan Chronicle

Kolam tribals swear by bamboo life, seek increased plantation

Deccan Chronicle.| Pillalamarri Srinivas

Published on: May 18, 2022 | Updated on: May 18, 2022

The absence of bamboo is threatening Kolam tribals livelihood, religious practices and eating habits

Kolam Adivasi women and men making Mats with the Bamboo they have collected from the forest at Boringuda village in Adilabad Rural mandal in Adilabad district. (Photo:DC)

Kolam Adivasi women and men making Mats with the Bamboo they have collected from the forest at Boringuda village in Adilabad Rural mandal in Adilabad district. (Photo:DC)

BORINGUDA (ADILABAD): Members of the Kolam Adivasi tribe in the Adilabad district are seeking increased plantation of a particular plant — the bamboo — the absence of which is threatening their livelihood, religious practices and eating habits.

The lives of this group of tribals, designated a ‘particularly vulnerable tribal group’ in the country, are intrinsically linked with the bamboo plant. They use bamboo in traditional rituals, consume its sprouts and sell products made from it.

However, members of the community are worried over their continued existence due to decreasing bamboo plantations and the lack of usable bamboo to produce goods.

Members of the community said that most of the bamboo trees died due to past pest attacks and that there was not much bamboo left in the district to produce items such as baskets and mats, among others.

A Kolam-made bamboo mat usually sells for Rs 300-400, while a basket sells for Rs 100 in local markets, which is their main source of subsistence. They said that middlemen also purchase their goods to sell them for higher prices in towns and cities, thereby pocketing huge profits.

But the lack of bamboo plants is likely to cause a domino effect on the livelihoods of several groups, they said.

A member of the Kolam Adivasi, Atram Jangu, of Boringuda in Adilabad Rural mandal, said that currently, members of the community had to travel seven to 10 kilometres per day to find bamboo. At present, they are sourcing bamboo from Saidpur forests, due to the lack of the same in their places of residence.

He said that going to distant places to collect bamboo also poses a threat to their lives, with many having died of attacks from wild boars. But, they do not have another option as the community members are majorly in poverty.

Jangu said that few members of the tribal community had registered land deeds, due to which there is a lack of irrigation facilities. Hence, members of the community depend mainly on rain-fed crops like cotton, jowar and maize for subsistence.

Another member of the Kolam community, Sidam Jaithu Bai of Boringuda, concurred that the continued existence of the tribe is under threat due to the lack of bamboo plantations. He appealed to the district forest officials to undertake steps to preserve their livelihoods.

At present, seed collection of forestry species is being undertaken by the district forest officer S. Madhav Rao in Kawal Tiger Reserve.

The tribals said that the officials must preserve bamboo seeds during the exercise and sow the same, as bamboo trees and their habitats are considered resting places for big cats like tigers and can work to improve the wildlife habitat as well.

Bai also called on the government to showcase their bamboo-made products to improve awareness about their community, and, in turn, improve their livelihood.

It is not only the Kolam tribals who are currently facing survival issues due to the degradation of forests. The Chench and Konda Redlu Adivasi groups are also on the verge of extinction, with their population decreasing significantly over the past 50 years.

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