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Protecting green lungs

Express News Service

SHIVAMOGGA: If you get off at Bhadravathi, and ask for directions to Tadasa village, perhaps not many will be able to help you. But this little known village has brought in a silent revolution and has turned the reclaimed forest land into a lush green canopy.

Forest cover in Shivamogga district has been steadily depleting over the years. This has been attributed to many reasons, but the main culprits are encroachments and unauthorised cultivation on bagair hukum land. There have also been very few attempts at rebuilding the forest cover in the area. However, almost 20 years back, Tadasa led a movement to reclaim lost forest and up the greenery in the area. 

T R Bheemarao who led the
re-greening efforts

Residents of Tadasa village have been making efforts to increase the forest cover in the area, and over the last 19 years, they’ve completely transformed the land around their village. At the forefront of these efforts is T R Bheemarao. He says, “When I returned home from Maharashtra, I saw that the green cover in the area had reduced drastically. That’s when I decided to convince others in the village to help stop forest land from being encroached. The first person I convinced was my father.

This started in 1998, and by 2000, most of the encroached land was reclaimed by the forest department. This has been a collective effort by seniors of the village, forest department authorities and the police too.” Bheemarao led a mass movement to reclaim and rebuild the lost forest land. In 2000, the government had sanctioned Rs 70,000 to develop these encroached lands.

Tadasa is a tiny village in Bhadravathi taluk with 140 families living there, and is surrounded by four hillocks – Thimmappana Gudda (spread across 150 acres); Kanivemmana Gudda (400 acres); Kalabhairaveshvara Gudda (130 acres) and Guddada Malleshwara (100 acres). Siddapura and Agaradahalli villages are also in the vicinity.

Recovering forest land at Thimmappana Gudda and Kanivemmana Gudda was kicked off by constituting a joint forest committee (JFC) in Tadasa in 2000. Another JFC was constituted for Kalabhairaveshvara Gudda and the Grama Samiti took care of the forest area in Guddada Malleshwara, which is located between Danapura and Gudumaghatta villages.

Bheemarao says, “Now, we have added about 1,000 sandalwood trees to the area. We have deployed two security guards whose salary is being taken care of by the JFC. A trench measuring 4ftx4ft has been dug along the forest area to stop any encroachment.” In some patches, the forest department had cultivated acacia, but after the plants dried, the villagers have planted fruit-bearing and other trees.

With increased forest cover in the hillocks, there has been marked improvement in the water table too. “Earlier, we had to dig about 180-200 feet to get water. Now, we get water at just 40 feet,” say some villagers. Additionally, Mattihalla – a small stream that runs in through Tadasa village — now runs all through the year. Earlier, this stream would only have water in the monsoon months.

MODEL VILLAGE

  • There is no liquor shop  in Tadasa
  • No open defecation as  all 140 houses have toilets
  • Village is plastic-free too
  • JFC has a corpus fund of Rs 4 lakh. 

All 140 families are its members. It disburses money to needy farmers for their agriculture activities in the name of God. Once farmers harvest the crop, they have to return the money with some interest.

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