A woman forest range officer single-handedly faced a group of villagers who were going to encroach a ’63-acre swathe of reserve forest land’. She boldly stood in front of their tractor and refused to budge and had also dared them to cut her. Her courageous act won her praises from her department.
30-year-old Srilakshmi HS works as a forest range officer in Sidlaghatta, Chikkaballapura district of Karnataka. Even when land grabbers threatened to burn her team’s vehicle after pouring kerosene on them, she was not at all scared.
She is currently on a mission leading a large-scale afforestation drive by ‘planting saplings’ on the reserve forest land in Varadanayakanhalli.
“When I decided to take up the plantation drive, villagers protested saying they’d been cultivating the said land for many years. I checked the documents and satellite imagery and found that there was no cultivation.
When the matter went to the local tehsildar, he ordered for a joint survey early this year and said neither forest department staffers nor villagers should enter the land till the issue is resolved,” TOI quoted her as saying.
In late August, as many as 30 farmer families with tractors went to the land and started ploughing it.
“When I went to the spot, it was heartrending to see trees being cut and set on fire. Though I was on guard, there was little hope of evicting families. We were only five and there was little help from cops. I filed a police complaint the next morning.
But it further enraged the locals and some miscreants even tried to torch our vehicles by pouring kerosene on them. Efforts by the tehsildar to intervene yielded no results,” she reportedly said.
It was when the bold officer took the step of standing in front of the tractor. Her brave act made the encroachers leave the land and now she is leading a plantation drive on it.
Hats off to the woman for putting her life on the line for the environment.