The unfolding story

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Red Letter Day for bamboo

On April 27, Maharashtra will rewrite history. On that day, bamboo, a hugely contested product of India’s forests, will attain its liberation and Mendha Lekha in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli

Latest updates from Mendha Lekha
April 26:
In response to forest department's opposition to giving community rights to freely sell, harvest and transport bamboo, Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has said that Minor Forest Produce is a ownership right vested by Parliament under Forest Rights Act and all state authorities are obliged to respect this provision.
Read: Jairam Ramesh's letter
April 25:
Just two days before the historic day when Mendha Lekha was set to become the first village in India to exercise its community right to harvest and sell freely bamboo under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the forest department says without its permission no transit pass will be issued to take away bamboo. It is “illegal”
Read: Chief Conservator of Forests response
See all updates>>
district will become the first village in India to exercise its community right to harvest and sell freely bamboo under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). This all in presence of Jairam Ramesh, Union minister for environment and forests and Prithviraj Chavan, chief minister of Maharashtra.

Historically, bamboo has been considered a tree or timber, which gives the forest department exclusive rights to harvest it. FRA has changed that by categorising bamboo as a minor forest produce that can be harvested by communities. Bamboo is useful because it has immense economic value.

Over 15 million people in India depend on it for their livelihoods. Since 1857, bamboo has remained shackled within the grips of India’s forest bureaucracy, which has refused to let go of this money-spinning forest product. Over 150 years after, the Forest Rights Act is enabling the villagers of Mendha Lekha to undo this historic wrong and liberate bamboo.

Down To Earth editor Sunita Narain had earlier brought bamboo during a protest at Mendha Lekha on February 15 and applied for transit pass. On April 27, we will know has the forest department agreed to give transit passes.

Also whether the community has got the right to take the harvested crop out of the village and sell or use it? We will find it out on April 27.



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