Deforestation contributes to climate change and calamity in the Cuttack District of Orissa.
The inhabitants of Kochila Village in the Cuttack District of Orissa are in great danger of losing crops again this year. Like many locations in India, a trend of environmental degradation and resulting climate change continue to threaten the livelihoods and stability of people across the state.
Community correspondent Sarita Biswal lives in Kochilanua Village. She recalls her community a decade ago when forests were lush and the crops were plentiful. But life is different now. She has seen drastic changes in the environment and is concerned that deforestation is playing a dangerous role in the suffering of her people.
Sarita speaks to one villager about a time ten years ago, before the government took responsibility for protecting the forest. He says, “Back then, there was forest all around. There was regular rainfall. Now that the forests are gone, it doesn’t rain anymore.” These days, dried up riverbeds, clear-cut land and barren fields stretch for kilometers. The man goes on to recall with a tinge of sadness, “We used to farm two-three times a year.”
According to the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), tens of thousands of hectares of forests have fallen in Orissa and “the microclimate of the region has changed after this loss in vegetation.” Indeed rainfall has decreased and the heat has risen, a devastating combination for agricultural yields and health.
Another community member makes more sobering remarks, “In the coming days all the crops will fail, people will not have food to eat. More and more people will die of sunstroke. The heat will give rise to thick, dark cyclones.” The words of the community echo serious statements from the CSE:
“For more than a decade now, [Orissa] has experienced contrasting extreme weather conditions: from heat waves to cyclones, from droughts to floods. They have not only become more frequent, but have hit areas that were never considered vulnerable. As a result, Orissa’s economy has been ripped apart.”
As it seems, local residents are quite conscious of the impacts of deforestation and climate change in their lives. Yet, Chita Ranjan Rout, a Forest Officer in Cuttack declares, “Local people are lacking in awareness about the forest.” He also claims to know nothing of the impacts that the nexus of forest officials and timber mafia are having on the deforestation issues in the region.
In Orissa, millions of people are directly affected by climate change and environmental degradation each year. Cyclones, draughts, floods and other climate related calamities are claiming lives and livelihoods across the state at alarming rates. Massive deforestation is a severe contributor to these issues and requires swift attention, starting with accountability in the Forest Department.
Join Sarita in demanding protection for the forests in her village and in turn the environmental integrity of the state of Orissa. You can support this cause by logging a formal complaint:
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests
Aranya Bhawan, Chandrashekharpur Road
Bhubaneswar – 751 007, Orissa
Phone: 0674 – 442047