Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Story of an Unsung Hero.. .

Devaram Gujjar is a 47 year old resident of Kala-khora Village. He is a strong headed, tough and well built man. Although he is an ordinary villager, he does an extra ordinary task... The conservation of forest around his village.

Devaram Gujjar

This he has been doing committedly and courageously since the past 16 years, in spite of all the foot-dragging and antipathy from fellow villagers.

Those tourists visiting Ranthambhore regularly must be acquainted with the mountains behind Amli Dha... This 2 Kilometer long strip from Kala-khora to Ghadin is saved due to the efforts of this one sole man. Not just protecting this patch Devaram has also been actively planting trees in his area. He has planted 200 Neem trees around his village.

The Patch of land protected by Devaram since the past 16 years..

However now he is facing severe opposition from his fellow villagers. Although his is a small village comprising of 15 houses but in mid July 80 people; who were summoned from neighbouring villages Talada, Bajoli and Gadhin (under which the green patch falls) charged on Devaram.

The Gujjar Samaj Panchayat has now issued an order whereby if Devaram tries to stop any fellow villager from entering the woods he will be fined a sum of Rs. 51,000/-

Post this order within fifteen days 15 trees have already been cut by the villagers...

Significance of this forest patch:

1) This patch of forest connects Ranthambhore National Park with Keladevi sanctuary; Keladevi sanctuary is just 1 kilometre away from this belt. Thus it is a very important corridor acreage.

Serves as an important connectivity between keladevi and Ranthambhore National Park for the tigers.. .

2) In the periphery of Ranthambhore there are just 3 areas which are covered with rich indigenous trees species.

First is the belt adjoining Ranthambhore Bagh hotel to Jhumar Bawari up to the main gate of Ranthambhore National Park. The reason why it is saved is because all tourism hotels fall in this area, the Forest Department and tourist vehicles pass this patch and due to this vigilance the protection wall is not broken by the villagers.

The second area is near Sher bagh and Khem Villas Resorts, a small hill, saved by the efforts of Dr Govardhan Singh Rathore.

The third area is the one protected by Devaram, it has NO protection walls, the areas nearby have heavy cattle grazing activities.

3) Till now the efforts seen were from the government, NGO’s, tourism personnel as a bounden duty, but this is the sole representation in Ranthambhore’s muse of history that an individual has worked for conservation without having any personal motives.

4) This is 16 years of forest conservancy work, it will take just a few months to fray away...

Whoever has cut the 15 odd trees in this 20 days should be prosecuted and strict action should be taken against them otherwise this will be an open invitation to the rest of the villagers!