I've been in the Chandrapur forests right from the start of this tree occupation activity. One of my tasks was to help build a secure tree house, before Brikesh came to live in the forest. I've been here for one and a half months and I chose to be here for so long because the issue is very close to my heart.
Everyday has been an interesting experience compared to my daily life back in the city. Even routine here is a mini-adventure.
Something as simple as collecting water was one of my most interesting routine tasks. We used to dig a hole near the river and throw out the muddy water that filled up the hole initially. Once clean water came to the surface, we filled our pots and added sodium to it to make it worth drinking.
Velagapudi Rajesh with his caricature. © Brikesh Singh / Greenpeace.
These small tasks kept us occupied most of the time. There were occasions when we were lucky enough to see some form of wildlife. On one such day, I spotted a Python, and a Russell's Viper on another.
All of us made several new friends during our stay in the forests. People from Padmapur village paid frequent visits to our tree house. Someone or the other would drop-by almost every day. Talking to them and sharing experiences was fun too. Over few weekends we had close to 150 people from the village at the tree house.
All of them supported the protest against coal mining. They understand the impacts of coal mining better than we do, because they will be experiencing these impacts first hand. The forests fulfill most of their basic requirements- food, livelihood, recreation and so on. Coal mines won't be able to provide for them like the forests do.
My one regret is that in my one month in the forest, I didn't spot even one wild animal apart from the snakes. Perhaps it was expecting too much, since the mine with its frequent blasting was nearby. If we destroy the existing forests as well, then what will be left for our future generations? How will they know what animals live in our forests? Through pictures in books? I hope not.
Show your support for the forests: www.junglistan.org/act