Bodhghat Water Project A Threat To Forest, Biodiversity, Tribals along with Wildlife

The government has once again involved in discussions with public representatives from Bastar to Raipur on the implementation of Bastar’s biggest Bodhghat hydropower project in the state of Chhattisgarh. This water project has been approved by the Central Water Commission. The Chhattisgarh state government did not mentioned the Bodhghat hydropower project in its manifesto, yet the state government is looking very serious about the project. While the Panchayat Provisions Act (PESA Act) 1996 was included in the state government’s own manifesto still there is no response on it . The people of the community are feeling nervous due to the sudden approval of Bodh Ghat hydel project in Bastar. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel is planning to make a policy of rehabilitation soon in the meeting on the Bodh Ghat project. The rehabilitation policy must consider the tribal customs – tradition ,food, living, folk songs, folk dances, folk instruments, musical instrument, mineral wealth, forest wealth, unique flora and fauna , if the state does not consider it then it will be very dangerous for the tribal community. The tribals are dependent on water, forest and land, their livelihood depends on forest and small forest products . If the government does not take all these things into consideration, then the tribals will be in huge danger and will be forced to migrate to other places. When the world is facing a huge climate crisis the government is planning to destroy forest

In the construction of this project, about 30 villages will be fully submerged and 14 villages will be partially submerged. Out of which 5704 hectares of forest land, 5010 hectares private land and 3068 hectares government land has been included. Their population has been estimated to be between 1.5 lakh and 2 lakh. The area of Bodh Ghat Water Project is mainly inhabited by the MURIA, MADIYA and GOND tribes. It can be seen that these tribes may face difficulty in celebrating their – customs, food, lifestyle, folk dances, folk songs, musical instruments, culture, folk festivals, festival etc.

Now how will we save ??? A Tree , An Animal and A Bird is protected by tribals to bring balance in environement.

Tribal communities have created gotra system since thousands of years ago to bring balance in the environment. According to which every clan protects a bird, an animal and a tree to bring balance in environement. They believe that these totems are very pious and they do sewa of them. For example Baghel clan , they have to protect the bagh { Tiger } , Eagle and Banyan tree . Similarly, the Kashyapa clan they have to protect turtle , the Kashi kokodi bird and the Kashi tree. If they are rehabilitated, then they will be unable to protect creature, a bird and a vegetation which will more likely deteriorate the environmental balance. Keeping all these things in mind, tribals may be forced to migrate.

Bodhghat project will affect the panoramic view of Chitrakot Falls-

Chitrakote Falls is called the Niagara Falls of India. Tourists come from abroad to see the mighty fall. If the Bodhghat water project is built, there will not be a panoramic view of the waterfall. Because the Indravati river will be flooded. Due to which the water fall will submerge in water and there will not be any waterfall , which attracts and calm the tourist.

Effect of River project on Tribals and Forest-

The forest is the beauty of Bastar, the life of Bastar , the culture of Bastar, the forest is the vital system of Bastar. The tribals of Bastar remain dedicated to these forests from their birth ceremony, marriage ceremony and death ceremony. About 5704 hectares of forest land has been estimated to be damaged in this water project. Forests have played a major role in the life of tribals. The food items, medicine, building wood, rope making, fodder for animals, materials for making household utensils, pillars to commemorate ancestors {totem pole}, agriculture equipment etc forest is an integral part of their socio economic and cultural aspects of life. The tribals here give importance to the forest in economic, social and cultural life. Tribals are threatened with eviction due to the construction of a water project, as the rehabilitation of all the tribal people living on these tribal forests can prove to be a threat, if they are evicted from these forests, the tribals will be forced to migrate.

Medicine will be extinct

Nature has given tribals the opportunity to conserve rare herbs. The medicinal plants of the dense forest are found in large quantities in these effected areas. Tribals have been receiving health benefits for centuries. Tribals have been getting mint from the forest to get health benefits, jungle turmeric, behada, dhatura, serpagandha, white museli , wild onion, Herbs like Ratanjot, Siari Patra, Rasna Patra, Gobi Laata etc. depend on Jagalo. Almost all these herbs will submerge and destroy in the river project.

Drowning in mineral areas

Minerals are the cornerstone of the modern day materialistic civilization. These areas are rich in many mineral resources like iron ore bauxite, limestone, dolomite. If the Bodhghat project is started then all those area will submerge under water and all those minerals will also be under the water.

The folk culture, folk songs and folk dance of tribal culture will disappear

The tribals of Bastar thrive in the loving cradle of nature. Their whole life is based on the folk festival, folk songs and folk dance of nature. Their songs , festivals teaches then to save environement . Traditional festivals like Mati Tihar, Amus, Nua Tihar, Diyari, Chher Chhera, Bali Parab, Chait Parab Bhima Jatra along with many festivals performed in their religious places like Karsad, Hulki ,Madari, Dandar, Gedi, Hulki Paata dance which will go extinct.

Tribal communities will be evicted from customs and culture

The customs and culture of tribals are far away from the mainstream civilization. They live in dense forest in harmony with nature and they request to save nature through their dance and songs and culture , if evicted there will be huge effect in their traditions. The system of sirha , guniya , patel kotwar will be effected. The gonds , maria and muria follow the nar vyavastha { system } since old days and to evict them from their forest will lead to destruction of their system .

Tribals will be deprived of servicing their pious Trees-

Tribals are the child of nature , from birth till their death they live most of their life in harmony with nature. The entire culture of the tribes is embedded in customs and traditions. They consider some trees as their deities. Tribals may be deprived form serving the tree along with the deities. Many such deity trees are in Bastar such as Saja, Semal, Karji, Salfi, they believe that their ancestor inhabit in these trees .Many obstacles on Dev Gudi { religious place}* The center of faith of the tribals is on the Devgudis, in this Devgudi is inhabited by some pen Shakti. Dand prevents the people of his village from outside attack. Rao of the village supervises the village. A center of faith is built to remember his ancestors. The region is mainly inhabited by prominent deities like Kanakali, Mavali Bhairam, Saat Vahni, Dulardadi Godna Mata, Ghati Mundin, Telgin Mata, Pradesin, Higlajin.

Evicted from agricultural land

Agriculture is of very important , it is the backbone of any civilization since the dawn of civilization. In the Bodhghat project approximately 5500 hectares of agricultural land will be submerged in water . It will be important to see that the whether the state is able to provide sufficient amount od arable land to the 2 lakh people who will be affected by this rehabilitation . The state government has full responsibility. Jawara, Harhar, Kodo, Kutki are cultivated in this region. Tribal community are dependent on the forest as they domesticate cow, bull, buffalo goat, sheep, rabbit, duck, pigeon pig hen and if they do not have enough fodder and pasture land they will have to release them which are very important in their day to day life . Every season they are dependent on forest green leafy vegetables as they are in their dietary habit . All this will lead to an unknown future and migration to an unknown land making the life of tribals miserable.

translate-Umendra shori/copy editing- anubhaw/rozi

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