ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Thenga Pali

Forest Vigilance and Traditional Customs

Forest communities in India and elsewhere are central to protecting forests and forest resources.

In November 2018, Balarampur village in the district of Dhenkanal, Odisha, saw a heated conflict between the people and the state concerning the acquisition of forestland by a corporate body—the Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha—for the construction of breweries. The community was largely dependent on the forest produce for their livelihoods. The bottling unit was sanctioned in 2016 and the villagers were engaged in resisting its establishment by raising the issue in the gram sabha. They appealed to all concerned authorities in vain. They resisted by not allowing the company officials to enter the allotted site. However, they were caught unawares when around 1,000 mature trees were cut down in the wee hours of 17 November 2018 in an attempt to start the unit. The villagers staged huge protests, in which the women hugged trees to halt attempts to cut them. Some protesting villagers were arrested and forcibly removed from the site, but ultimately, the government had to give in to the pressure from the villagers and the media coverage, finally withdrawing from the land acquisition and stalling the setting up of the brewery.

Forest communities in India and elsewhere have been central to protecting forests and forest resources even if the specific practices might have undergone changes with the passage of time as well as the introduction of and amendments to legal and institutional structures. There exist several practices—direct and indirect—that contribute to forest governance by the forest-dwelling communities. Indirect ways refer to those customs practised in everyday living or worship with an emphasis on sustainability and their inextricable and symbiotic linkages with forest resources. Direct ways of forest governance refer to those that take the form of formal or informal arrangements aimed at protecting the forest.

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Updated On : 12th Jun, 2022
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