Balarampur is a small village in Central Odisha whose people are fighting tooth and nail to protect the Jhinkargadi forest. They are fighting against the government of Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
The villagers have won the battle and have forced the authorities to scrap a Rs 102 crore brewing project, which was to be established inside a forest protected by the villagers for more than four decades. The authorities were aided with armed police force but even that couldn’t budge the people.
The Jhinkargadi forest is spread over approximately 243 hectares and is a common property resource for various nearby villages in Dhenkanal district including Balarampur.
The authorities wanted to brings some of the Jhinkargadi forest areas under “land bank” which will open gates for various industrial projects. The dense forest of Jhinkargadi is under the direct control of villagers.
The villagers did not agree on Dhenkanal district handing over the forest area to the industry in 2017. They moved to Orissa High Court (HC) and National Green Tribunal with the objection of the land acquisition. But that didn’t slow down anything.
As the plans of the brewing project moved forward, the villagers pushed harder to stop it. Women hugged trees (a reminiscence of Chipko Movement) to save them.
“When our forefathers started protecting forests, the land was full of shrubs with little tree coverage. The village committee started traditional rotational forest patrolling and prevented timber smugglers from having free access to forests. Our efforts bore fruits and Jhinkargadi is now one of the finest protected forests,” said Sushanta Kumar Dhala, secretary of BGPP.
Villagers fought with armed police as they tried to chase them away and leave the trees to be cut down. As matter fired up, media and people from the country started giving attention to it. Finally, on November 19, the CM announced that the project will not continue anymore.
Source- Down To Earth
Image Credit: Jyoti Prakash Brahma