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Forest Dept Drive Eases Decades-long Travel Travails of Tribal People in Karnataka Wildlife Sanctuary

Tribal villagers residing around Mahadeshwara Hills in Karnataka say they have no roads, students walk several kilometres to schools, and locals have sometimes been compelled to carry pregnant women over their shoulders on poles. Parts of the area fall in the Malai Mahadeshwara wildlife sanctuary and its buffer region, resulting in basic infrastructure being missing.

Amid all this, forest department officials in Chamarajanagar came as a ray of hope by introducing a special drive and providing automobiles for villagers to commute.

After 75 years of Independence, people living in and around the dense forest of the Mahadeshwara Hills still lack access to suitable roads, putting their lives at risk with fierce animals in the jungle. The villagers say their repeated requests to politicians to provide them with roads fell on deaf ears.

“It is a difficult life here. We have to walk kilometres to buy essentials and for other facilities. To buy rice, we have to walk 7 kilometres in the forest area and with that, we have to carry the rice sacks back home,” said a village resident.

“Villagers here are facing a lot of problems. There is no road facility, no ambulance for pregnant women, and students are forced to walk long distances to schools,” said V Yedukondalu, deputy conservator of forests, Malai Mahadeshwara.

After politicians offered no help to the villagers, the forest department in Chamarajanagar came up with a special drive named Jana-Vana Sethuve. Through this campaign, the forest department along with the district administration has provided four vehicles for around 11 villages around the forest area for travel purposes.

“Through Jana-Vana drive, four vehicles have been provided to the villagers around the Mahadeshwara Hills who lack travel facility. These vehicles will be helpful in every way. It will be helpful for pregnant ladies, students, and for other reasons also,” said the deputy conservator of forests.

At a cost of nearly fifty-five lakh rupees, the Jana-Vana drive will also be highly beneficial for students who have no option but to walk several kilometres through the forest area to reach schools.

“All the vehicles will pick the students from their homes and drop them at schools for free of cost because it is difficult for students to walk so long and risk their lives in the jungle. This drive will ensure that students’ education is not disturbed due to travel issues,” Yedukondalu added.

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