Sudhansu Sekhar Deo
Kalahandi has set an example for the whole country when the Gramsabha of Kanakpur started the processing of Kendu leaf using Forest Right Act 2006. Kanakpur is a small village in Golamunda block of Kalahandi district in Odisha. There are more than 100 households in the village , of which the majority belong to tribal communities. Their livelihood is dependent on agriculture and forest produce. This village has been conserving and managing its forest since the last 20yrs. In the year 2011 the village got the community right title in the framework of FRA2006 from the District level committee of Kalahandi district.
Kendu leaf plays a major role during the summer. Before 2018 the villagers sold Kendu leaf to the Forest Department Collection Centre in a near by village. In 2018 the Gramsabha under the framework of Forest Right Act 2006 started selling Kendu leaf. This is the first case of sale of Kendu leaf using Forest Right Act in Odisha. Some families earned up to Rs 15,000 from Kendu leaf which was the double amount from the previous year.
This year inspite of Covid19 lockdown the Gramsabha has ensured that the Kendu leaf business is running and families involved in Kendu leaf collection are getting money each day. Processing of Kendu leaf by Gramsabha is the first instance in the whole country. All the families in the village are involved in Kendu leaf collection and sale. Due to processing, six families get employment for one week. Processing has created additional employment at the village level. The Gramsabha is managing the forest very well. According to the Gramsabha leader Chandramani Majhi the Gramsabha is planning to harvest mature bamboo from the forest and has plans to start Siali leaf business too as Siali leaf is abundantly available in the forest. Siali leaf can ensue livelihood to landless families at least for six months in a year.
The Gramsabha has prepared a forest management plan and accordingly manages the forest. The Gramsabha has not receive any fund from
government’s side. All decisions regarding forest management is taken in the Gramsabha meetings. Everything is documented in Gramsabha resolution book and resolutions are passed on all decisions. “Kanakpur has created an example in decentralised forest governance. Decentralisation of forest governance through Forest Right Act can conserve the natural forest and create employment and this government should be proactive in distribution of community right and community forest resource management right titles to all eligible 30,000 villages”, says Sudhansu Sekhar Deo, Convenor of the Bana Swaraj Abhijan, a campaign which advocates for the management of forests by gram sabhas in India.