Conservation's language

Published: Monday 31 July 1995

Language errors can definitely pose problems, as villagers of 5 districts in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra will testify. The misinterpretation of 2 Marathi words Zudpi Jungle in the records of the revenue and forest departments of the Maharashtra government -- resulting in their incongruous use in the amended Forest Conservation Act, 1980 -- has put the livelihood of scores of villagers at stake.

The words Zudpi Jungle, or grassland forests, mean that these lands are now classified as forest lands and their use is banned for any other purpose. Villagers now cannot collect fallen trees and wood for cooking or for other household use. Some 50,000 mine workers employed in the region are being rendered jobless as mining cannot take place there.

The records of only 5 districts -- Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Wardha and Nagpur -- have this discrepancy. Moreover, most of these lands are actually barren lands with barely any trees but holding a wealth of minerals.

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