Page No: 187 & 88
When I wrote a profile Chandi Prasad Bhatt in the press I received this letter from an activist working in the tribal districts of Andhra Pradesh – the letter bears witness both to the quality of Bhatt’s mind and to his style of working:
I read your coverage on Sri Chandi Prasad Bhatt in The Hindhu, Sri Bhatt visited our place Rampachodavram in the tribal area in East Godavari of Andhra Pradesh in 1987 to find out the reasons for the severe floods of river Godavari in 1986. I started a NGO, Sakti in 1985 after completing [my] Ph.D. on tribal Knowledge systems of this area. A common friend brought Bhatt to me. He toured for seven days and his report came in Jansatta [a Hindi daily] with the title “ Godavari ke god me ab toot kar girenge pahad” [the mountain will soon fall into the Godavari river]. His visit inspired me to take a different course of action, litigation, to check the deforestation, since the hold of Naxalites [Moist revolutionaries] is intense in these areas and they are also part of the nexus. We were able to check state sponsored deforestation by forcing the closure of [a] plywood factory felling the wild mango tree, felling of thick forest by cultivation pattadars [farmers] and mining by non – tribals etc.
On my request Mr Bhatt again visited our place in 1990 when Vishaka district tribal area was devastated by [a] cyclone in the summer of 1990.
[The noted environmentalist] Anil Agarwal was visiting Hyderabad in 1992. We were discussing Sri Bhatt. Anil was telling me that Bhatt Mobilized the people and afforestation was taken up in the Reserved Forests without caring for any permission from the [forest] department. This information inspired me to take up afforestation mobilizing tribals….
So far, I could not go to Sri Bhatt’s place. Though the interaction with him is very brief the insight and impetus he gave me is everlasting and unfolded a new era in the history of resource management in the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh. I hope you will cover such efforts of Sri Bhatts in our reaching other areas and his other facets of constructive work.