...among local villagers because he involves them in sandalwood smuggling and shares the benefits

The sandalwood forests are gone. Now an ageing Veerappan looks for greener pastures

Whatever the outcome of the hostages crisis in Karnataka, stupid sandalwood protection laws will keep creating smugglers out of India's exploited poor people

a huge illegal consignment of timber worth several crores has been seized by forest department officials at a number of railway stations including Nangloi (Delhi), Rajpura (Punjab) and Tinsukhia

The decades after Independence saw rampant destruction of trees. This was followed by years of drought. It was then that the villagers realised that no forests meant no rain

Every village has its own way of protecting the forests, but each one is a success story

While the state government is keen to introduce JFM, villagers say there is no need for that since they have been carrying out all protection measures on their own for decades now

I assure you that people s rights will be protected

They prefer to be called the forest castes . They are the 2,000,000 odd villagers living in some 10,000 villages across Orissa. After Independence, timber smugglers and an apathetic government robbed them of the forests they had lived in for decades.

1920s: The British introduced railway lines in Orissa. Commercial exploitation of forests began in a big way. 1930s: In Dhenkanal, people revolted against the king for rights over the forests