Thiruvananthapuram: On Wednesday morning, as rains were yet to drench the capital city, and many were blaming short-sighted development for the searing heat, ecologist Madhav Gadgil spoke about hope. “There is hope in democratic devolution, in people getting power,” he said.
Before one could dismiss that as wishful thinking, he had a bright example to share from Pachgaon, a tribal village in eastern Maharashtra. Here, the Forest Rights Act 2006 has been implemented, and the grama sabha is active. Three years ago, it was decided that each of the 100 or so households will suggest rules to ensure better management of their lives.
Of the over 500 rules submitted, 27 were related to managing forest produce. “One interesting rule was that they will stop loping tendu leaves, which are used for making beedi,” Mr Gadgil said. This was a means to earn daily wages. However, to collect maximum leaves, some were cutting the trees or even burning the forest.
Instead, the community decided to focus on growing the tree’s fruit which is similar to chiku fruit. “Their plan was that in two or three years they will be able to generate enough money, and also protect the forests. They have done it now!” said Mr Gadgil.
He said that the Kadars’ right to implement Forest Rights Act was violated in Athirappilly. “It should not have happened,” he said.
Mr Madhav Gadgil was in town to take part in a workshop on Wikipedia at Vakkom Maulavi Foundation. “I think democracy will prevail, though in Goa, democracy is being slaughtered,” he said. He was referring to the alleged attack of Ravindra Velip, anti-illegal mining activist in police custody, and the Goa police’s refusal to file an FIR....