DEFORESTATION- ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM
There was Kudos for the conscientious people of Kerala when they initiated the programme of ‘Smrithivanam’ in the early nineties. They started planting trees in the memory of the dead. It is a living grave, yard helping the ecology to improve. Even an ordinary man knows that forests invite water laid clouds, provide timber, are a source of natural nitrogenous manure, preserve soil from erosion, suck the underground water and provide shade and safety to small plants. Forests have also been providing a number of fruits including pineapple, coconut and charauli. They have now come under regular plantation.
It is because of the absence of trees that Rajasthan is more or less a desert area. Still people, contractors and even government agencies have been denuding forests. The Chipko movement of Uttar Kashi and Almora and Apiko movement of Kanara in Karnataka have not stopped killing the benevolent creation of nature that saves environment.
The denudation of hill forests in Doon valley in U.P., Shimlain Himachal Pradesh, and Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and Mahendragin in the South has brought havoc in these areas. The trees are felled for commercial mining and in the name of tourism. Vast areas in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have been brought under cultivation ate felling the trees. Huge dams have cleared a number of forest regions in Punjab, Orissa and the South. Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project is not the last nail in the coffin of forests.
Because of the rise in population the axe has fallen on forest areas for residential needs and for procuring agricultural needs. Forest wealth has already decreased in Bihar – Bengal – Orissa border belt because of coal mining. It was a pity that the State Government and the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment decided to hand over 206 sq. Km. to the army for setting up field firing range (FFR). About 40.000 tribal’s residing in the areas started a ‘beat the drum’ agitation. The sound was not heard by the authorities who had planned to acquire 34 villages and notified 127. No plan was prepared to resettle the oustees. They met the fate Narmada Plan oustees are meeting.
The problem at Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka is a different but equally serious. In the late sixties and early seventies Kabini dam had submerged 10,000 acres of land. 9000 acres of forest land was cleared of trees for relocating to the displaced non tribal population. The tribal’s were moved to the Nagarhole National Park. The government wants to relocate the tribal’s living in 54 settlements an area of 2000 hectare within the Park. It plans to provide the facilities of residence, hospitals and schools at the settlement located near Veerannahosalli, on the Hunsur – Nagarhole road. But the tribal’s, specially the 70 Kurba families residing near Kabini reservoir area in Maladadi Hadi area resist their shifting.
The tribal’s too having their interest in denuding forests. They have cleared over 300 acres of forest land. They lease the land to Keralites for growing ginger and charge Rs. 2000 per acre from them. 66,500 Men living in 96 villages located within 5 Km of the park periphery have 27,600 cattle. This high ratio of cattle (two for one man) provides the dung, sold as manure. The animals graze in the forest without any charges and on being grown up are sent to slaughter houses in neighbouring Kerala. The consciousness about the forest health to save environment is not to be aroused among the government agencies and the people but the people but among the tribal’s themselves whom the forests sustain.