MAC: Mines and Communities

Sambad: The forest feeds us, we won't allow its destruction

Published by MAC on 2006-01-24

Sambad: The forest feeds us, we won't allow its destruction

by Angul,

24th January 2006

"The forest feeds us. Forest is our life." The people of Raijharan have strongly protested against the proposed destruction of forests which they have been protecting since 30 years for coal mining. Kalinga Coal Mines had organized a public hearing in Dhobamali village of Raijharan. In this meeting the officials of the Govt, Kalinga Coal Mines and the Orissa Pollution Control Board had participated. More than 500 men and women of various villages strongly emphasized that they would at no cost allow the destruction of the dense sal forest. The women said they had been protecting the forest for more than 30 years. The forest has provided them with all basic needs and is an important source of livelihood for them. They are not only making sal plates and cups but are also being able to extract lac, resin, amla, harida, bahada and other forest produce which they are able to sell in the market. The women questioned the government and company officers that how can they live after the destruction of the forest which has been providing them with food year after year.

The Kalinga Coal Company, for mining purpose, is planning to acquire 385 acres of forest land, 335 acres of private land and 50 acres of grazing land. The purposed mining area affects the Singada river and the Raijharan dam. The Singada River can be termed as the life line of this area. If the proposed mining plan is allowed, the people feared there will severe shortage of water since both these water sources would turn dry.

After 30 years of protection the forests have become quite dense and they abound in wild animals. The villagers questioned whetherit is ethical to destroy this beautiful forest. In this public hearing the sarapanch, ex-sarapanch, ward members of Raijharan, Dhobamalia, Nandichod, Gopibalhabapur and Similisai had participated.

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