When no one cares, destroy nature

Bhanjanagar: It is a sort of no-no world. An area of darkness. There is no electricity, no roads nor water. Whatever are there, like the lone school and the primary health care unit, they exist only on pen and paper. For no school teacher nor any doctor agrees to come to the dark world.

When repeated requests to the authorities failed to ameliorate their problems, the residents of Siuli, Biripada and Durungi under Tarasingh panchayat in Ganjam completely felled 30 acres of forests in the Gayaganda range. Red flags planted by the irate villagers flutter all over the forest land. Backing the villagers in their protest is the Loksangram Manch, a left wing organisation known for its association with the CPI(Maoist).

The three villages lack barest minimum amenities. There is only one well to cater to the drinking water requirements of the villagers. Even that is contaminated. There is one school for the three villages. But there is not a single teacher even. Again, the residents have to traverse through forests and unmotorable roads for two to three days to reach the nearest hospital in the panchayat if anybody falls ill.

Sadly enough, public distribution system still remains a distant dream for the villagers. Though all the families in the three villages lurch under abject poverty and have been included in the BPL category, barring two to three privileged families, PDS items remain distant dreams as well. The least said about the old residents is better still.

The villagers had made several request to the authorities to mitigate their problem. Everything so far has come to a naught. Finally, the Lok Sangram Manch intervened. It taught the villagers to take the extreme step of denuding the 30 acres of forest land. And the villagers joined en masse to destroy the trees and plant red flags. While the forest officials preferred to remain silent on the incident, the sub-collector said that steps would be initiated to relocate the residents of the three villagers. But when exactly, the subcollector Tirumalla Nayak is clueless.