Chorati Village

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 Location Ecosystem Type   Conservation Type   Area(hectare) Legal status 
 Chandrapur, Maharashtra Mixed Ecosystem Conservation 560 Community Owned

Case Study (2009)

Background

Chorati village is situated close to the Nagpur-Brahmapuri road in Brahmapuri taluka of Chandrapur District. The Adyaal Tekdi bus stop is 4 km away from the village. It is an Adarsh Gaon (ideal village), where villagers are involved in various activities along with conservation practises, making the village self-sufficient to some extent.

The forest surrounding the village is dry and moist deciduous, supporting rich floral diversity. Some of the commonly found trees are teak, ain, beheda, tendu, anjan, jambhul, moha or mahua, etc. Among the major animals found here are tiger, leopard, leopard cat, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, blacknaped hare, wild dogs or dhole and common mongoose. The total area under conservation is 560 ha.

Many communities like the Hindus, Buddhists and Adivasis (tribals) inhabit the village, which has a total of 175 households. The total population of the village is 1030. The total livestock population is 700, with 400 cattle, 200 sheep and 100 buffaloes.

Forest conservation began in 1993, initiated by the gram sabha under the influence of gaon ganrajya samiti (village self-rule committee) and the adarsh gram nirman samiti (model village development committee). The gram sabha (village council) is the main decision-making body in the village and decisions are taken by consensus. An adivasi is the village head.

The gram sabha is also responsible for conservation and management of the village forest. Besides the gram sabha, the adarsha gram nirman samiti and six mahila bachat gats (womens’ savings groups) are also involved with forest conservation.

The gram sabha has an executive committee for day-to-day functioning. This committee has five members, out of which two are women. However, all major decisions are taken in the gram sabha meeting by the entire village. All the families actively participate in the decision-making and implementation, and enjoy equal share in the resource benefits.

The villagers have to pay a yearly amount of Rs 50 to gain access to fuelwood from the forest. Under the Adarsh Gaon Yojana,1 56 acres out of the 560 acres of land was afforested with species of various forest fruit trees and indigenous trees of economic importance such as teak, Terminalia tomentosa, Terminalia bellerica, bamboo, tamarind, etc. Besides forest protection, the gram sabha imposed a ban on alcohol consumption. Under the yojana, 165 gobar-gas plants were introduced in 175 households, 13 latrines were constructed and family planning was introduced in the village.

After the protection of the forest was initiated, villagers now have abundant resources required for agriculture and livelihood. Fodder availability has increased, in turn increasing the milk production.

According to the villagers, wild creepers, medicinal plants, insects, mammals and avian populations have increased in the area. The conservation efforts have helped improve the wild habitat for animals ranging from tiger to mongoose that are found in these forests.

The ban on alcohol has reduced the number of domestic fights in the village. Since the village now enjoys nistari (customary) rights in their village, royalty which was earlier given to the FD for use of forests now remains with the villagers. Many internal conflicts are now being resolved internally, without depending on the external judicial system.

The relationship with the FD is riddled with friction and political neglect. Inspite of this the villagers are determined to keep the conservation effort going. The major reason for the success of this initiative has been the feeling of unity in the village and the sense of belonging towards the conserved forest. This can be illustrated by an incident in June 1999 when the District Collector arrested 41 villagers and imprisoned them for 45 days, after an agitation. During this time the rest of the village looked after the families of the 41 villagers.

The gram sabha plans for the future are to distribute 150 acres of land to the village landless.

  This report has been prepared by Mahadeo Girlurkar of the NGO Khoj, in March 2001. We are extremely grateful to Ajay Dolke, ‘Shrujanpod’, Yavatmal District, Maharashtra.  

Mahadeo Girlurkar,
‘Khoj’ c/o Shri P.M. Khandelwal,
Near Govind Lodge, Gujari Bazar,
Paratwada 444805

1 A scheme of the state government aimed at encouraging and financially supporting villagers carrying out outstanding social and economic development in their villages.

This case study was part of the Directory on Community Conserved Areas (2009), published by Kalpavriksh. The directory can be downloaded here.

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