Krushak Charcha Mandal,
Chandrapur district, Maharashtra
Total area 514
Forest area 272.38
In the village of Sayagata the forests were destroyed after the 1960's
due to illegal logging. Besides, after Independence, the forest department
also denied the villagers access to the forest. Put together, it meant
a loss of livelihood for them. There were no tendu leaves, gum and
mohua to sell in the market. The only solution in sight was to work
together in regenerating the land. In 1993, the villagers themselves
launched a joint forest management (JFM) project.
But to start with, in 1973, the villagers formed an organisation called
Krushak Charcha Mandal under the leadership of Surybhan Khorbade of
Sayagata. After the Gram Sabha elections in 1979, a committee headed
by Khorbade was formed to lead the forest regeneration effort. They
fenced the forests, but did not plant any new trees. The stress was
on regenerating natural root-stock. Groups of 10 people guarded the
degraded forests day and night, says Khorbade. By 1982, the forest
started showing signs of recovery.
Under the JFM programme, villagers in need of wood have to apply to
the village forest committee. If anyone is caught felling without
prior permission, that person is asked to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 or
is punished suitably.
The result is there to see. The green cover is back. The groundwater
table has also risen. "Now water is available throughout the
year," says Kusum, a resident of the village. The agricultural
yield has almost doubled, says Lala Ram, another resident. Says Khorbade,
"We have realised our power. And there is a feeling of kinship
among us. This is our greatest achievement."
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