A Silent Revolution – How A Collectors Effort Regained 9700 Acres of Encroached Land For Community Development

669

It was just a simple family trip to me to JanjgirChampa – visiting a few relatives was the purpose. All I had in mind while I was travelling was to have a look at the land that is popular for Kansa, Kosa and Kanchan.

The red flags however were the ones that caught my eyes – and they were somehow seen everywhere I went. The first thought that crossed my mind was Naxal. Oops! No don’t get me wrong, Everytime I go to Chattisgarh, I always am scared of red.

That was what prompted me to ask my chacha – “what are these red flags doing in middle of fields, especially in agricultural lands?”

My chacha said that the revenue department was removing encroachment of government lands. But the number of flags I could see were numerous and plentifully spread till my eyes could see.

This totally intrigued me; I wanted to go into the depth of this story. I spoke with local administrative and revenue officers and guess what – I found a real landmine just below this simple one line story.

JanjgirChampa – A District In The Heart Of Chhattisgarh

The District Janjgir-Champa was established on 25 May 1998 and is situated in the centre of Chhattisgarh and so it is considered as Heart of Chhattisgarh.

The district is known for the famous Kosasarees and has history of the possessing the best bronze and gold. Agriculture is the main occupation and most farmers grow 2 crops of paddy every year.

Tree cover is just around 5% in the district which has been the worry for some time now.

The Red Flagging and Why It Was Done

The DM and Collector Dr S.Bharathidasan IAS had given strict directive on assessing, appropriating and seizing government lands that have been encroached – says a source from the DMs office who asked us to keep his name out of this. The reason he says is the DM is not a person looking for publicity rather he is doer who works in silence and let the work speak for him. And this work really speaks quite loud.

What started as a small mission began taking huge form when they came to know the actual amount of lands that have been encroached, especially the ones that were otherwise meant for community development.

A drive of flagging the encroached land, demarcating them and making boundaries so the land would not encroach again.

3587 Hectares of Land

Oh yes! You read it right – 3857 hectares – that’s a whopping 9700 acres of land has been relieved of encroachment. Would you want to imagine the humungous difference this huge chunks of lands make to villages which have otherwise been devoid of a grazing land, playground or even community space?

So the land was identified, seized and red flagged.

Why Is This Encroachment Removal Important

  1. Increasing Forest Cover

Taking into account that JanjgirChampa has only about 5% forest cover and to stop people from encroaching these lands again, initiatives to plant trees was done by the district authorities in every village and these yielded great results.

The district is now proud of planting 10 lakhs saplings in around 1000 hectares of government land. Another 2000 hactares are to be planted this coming year.

 

Since Kosa is the main business in JanjgirChampa, efforts to mass plant Arjun trees have also been successfully done, which the sericulture department says is going to give results in another 4 years.

  1. Land For Animal Grazing

In the last 10 months villagers and farmers across the district of JanjgirChampa have been cooperative in removing encroachment. In fact they are glad that they would now have a place where the cattle of the village can be grazed.

In baloda, a 65 year old farmer Takathram said that this was the first ever time in his life that he has seen encroachment removed from agricultural. The villagers – especially powerful people had made it look as if encroaching government land was their birth right – Collector Saab, has however proved them wrong. The land that is recovered will now gives all of us benefits – especially land for grazing our cattle.

  1. Better Irrigation To Tail End Land

Since huge chunks of encroached lands near the water sources and canals use up water for irrigation, agricultural lands in the tail end have experienced drought and crop failure during past some time. This year, the irrigation department officials say that the farmers were extremely happy to get water till the last village of the district and the irrigation department made sure to keep the canals well supplied with water.

This has made sure that every farmer gets his share of water – a right that was denied due to encroachment.

  1. Community Development As A Whole

In Birra – one Mr Sitaram was very enthusiastic about the Collector’s effort. He said, “The administration is doing the right thing, with more government land around our village we can be assured that some government buildings like schools, colleges, offices etc will come up around us too, which will help in the overall development of the people. We can get good education, better facilities, electricity and jobs too”.

In fact it is evident that the people of the district as a whole are rejoicing the regaining of vast. I tried to get a personal interview with Collector Dr. S Bharathidasan, all I got was an answer that any information regarding the encroachment removal can be got from office and no personal interview is required. Kudos to you sir, it’s not every-day that media people like us get to meet people like you.

Well, for those who wish to know more, they say the DM has come up with a breakthrough in the improvement of child and women health too – you need to be as inquisitive as me to get that news!

https://twitter.com/JanjgirDist

https://www.facebook.com/JanjgirDist/