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Mendha Lekha wins right over bamboo, finally
Environment minister warns of legal action if officials refuse passes
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Mendha Lekha
The village which has been fighting for decades to get community rights over forest produces eagerly waits for the transit passes.

A big development yesterday
After meeting with the chief minister it agreed to handover transit passes to communities but with conditions. “Certain conditions have to be met under the Act to ensure transit passes are given to the gram sabha such as drawing up of management plans for commercial extraction of bamboo and notifying area where bamboo can be harvested. We have now given directives to local officials to ensure that to institutionalise this change,” said Anna Dani, state forest secretary.

On April 26, the forest department asked the villagers to pay Rs 10,000 for two books of transit passes. Every transit pass now costs Rs 100. This remains unclear whether this is a permanent levy which communities will have to pay. For smaller users the transit pass cost will be higher than the bamboo itself.

Just two days before the historic day when Mendha Lekha was set to become the first village in India to exercise its community right to harvest and sell freely bamboo under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), the forest department says without its permission no transit pass will be issued to take away bamboo. It is “illegal”

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In response to forest department's opposition to giving community rights to freely sell, harvest and transport bamboo, Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh has said that Minor Forest Produce is a ownership right vested by Parliament under Forest Rights Act and all state authorities are obliged to respect this provision.

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