`We want land to grow a forest of our own`

  • 30/10/1992

`We want land to grow a forest of our own` How did you join the sangha?
One day Venkates from Gramashrama came to the coir factory for a pooja. I asked him who he was. My friend Shankar was already a member and because I did not go to school, I decided to join.

What do you get out of the sangha?
I have learnt that group approach is the best. If I go alone to the authorities for water or rations, the tehsildar will give us nothing, But when we go together we get something. We have been to the tehsildar many times when we wanted water or needed ration cards. We are not afraid of the tehsildar and the other authorities. Instead, they are scared of meeting us.

What is this namma kadu that you want to start?
Nam, ma kadu means our forest. We want a forest of our own.. If we go to the woods of the bunts (landlovdsl they tie us to a tree and beat us up. If we had a forest of our own the. wind would blow and if the wind blows, the rains will come. We can get thimaye. for baskets, fuel, logs and fruits. The forest would attract birds. The bees would build their hives and we would eat a lot of honey. We would plant a lot of cashew trees, eat the apples and sell, the nuts., Sometimes, maybe, we would eat the nuts, too. We would all look after our forest and share whatever we get from it equally among the sangha members. If the bunts come to cut our trees, we would.. try to, stop them'. If they don't, listen, we will cut their trees.

But where will you get the land for the, forest?
Once we wanted about 40 ha in. one place for our forest. We even staged a play in front of the District Commissioner's Office ixi Bangalore to press our demands. We were told that there was no government land in Dakshin Kannada that was so large. All the land here is private. Then we planned to have a 2 ha-forest in each village. But how are we going to get land? We don't have any money.

The government' has asked us to identify the land andwe can do it, but it belongs to the bunts. The government would have to buy the land from them and give. it to us. Then we can show them what a lovely forest we, can grow. We keep going to the authorities to ask what they are doing to get us the land, but they keep making some excuse or another to drive us away.

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