Bundled out

it took the forest department (fd) of Maharashtra just three days to raze to the ground the village of Totladoh, which had been tenaciously surviving for years in Pench National Park. The fd moved in for the kill after the Nagpur bench of the Maharashtra High Court gave its verdict on April 22, 2002, terming the villagers as encroachers on the reserved forest. It ordered their immediate removal. Ironically, though the judgement also asked for the demolition of colonies of the irrigation department and Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board (mpeb), their residents were given time to make alternative arrangements.

When reports last came in, mpeb officers were still negotiating with the fd. The 100-odd families in the village, which got no such time to vacate their premises, were rendered homeless in the three days that the department