While I was in the fundraising department back in the city, Mahan was like a half-truth to me. When I got the opportunity from Greenpeace to go to Mahan, I realized that I would be able to know the whole truth about the story that we hear about everyday.
One of the things that I knew about Mahan was that it was a forest where companies like Essar wanted to mine for coal. This Mahan jungle has approximately 60 villages and the primary source of livelihood for these villages are the mahua, tendu leaves and fruits. The people of these villages are living basically only on these resources.
Companies like Essar want to mine the jungles and displace the people without giving a thought about the livelihood of the villagers. To save the Mahan forest, the villagers united and formed the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS) and it is because of this same Samiti that I am here to show my support economically by collecting Mahua fruits.
In this social work campaign there were around 25 volunteers like me. We woke up everyday at 4:30 and left the camp by 5:30 every morning. We collected mahua and showed our support to the local people who accompanied us during our mahua collection.
Our day began with yelling out Zindabad slogans and looking at the villagers join in with us. The MSS has made many slogans like, 'Jungle humare aap ka, nahi kisi ke baap ka', 'Mahan Sangharsh Samiti Zindabad Zindabad!' which help the MSS people and the villages to bond.
We collected around 4 to 5 quintals of Mahua, which I believe was a big thing. This wasn't just a work of collecting mahuas, but through it we want our struggle to go ahead. If such fights and struggles can be seen in each and every village of this district, then I'm sure; humanity would be able to walk ahead. After this 15 day camp, I've been filled with energy and enthusiasm and I will continue my fight until the end.
Jai Mahan! Jai Mahan!
Prasad Mahadar is a volunteer with Greenpeace India.