“Till 2009, I was leading a peaceful life by collecting woods and fruits from our forest and cultivating our fields. The forest from which I used to collect fruits and the lakes where I took bath everyday have already been lost before my eyes. I don’t know what will be left in this village for my children,” said 65-year-old Sarada with tears in her eyes. Many villagers echoed the same sentiments when asked about the changes unfolding in this village after an industrial complex started functioning.
Thevoy is farming village with a population of 5,000 consisting of 80% dalits and 20% tribals with every family holding agricultural land. With the economic stability, the village has a very high literacy rate and children in every family have good education.
Till recently modern medicines were a rarity here as most of their treatments were done by natural herbals collected from the nearby forest. The forest is no more.
“For generations, my family was involved in natural healing. Till 2009 I was also doing the same. Since the forest has been lost forever, now I man forced to take manual labour to feed my family,” said K Palani, a traditional healer in the village.
Fruit collection, a traditional livelihood for women in the village, has almost become extinct. “Many of us used take forest fruits to Kavarpettai and Redhill markets. The tradition is no more as trees have been cut down,” said another woman.
It is agriculture which has hit hard by the new developments. Till recently every family was keeping at least 10-15 cattle and the number has comedown drastically as their grazing lands have been lost.
“Of 3,500 acre of agricultural land, 700 acres have already become unusable as lakes feeding them have been lost. Without agriculture maintaining cattle has become un sustainable and un economical,” said Mahesh. During the public hearing held regarding the SIPCOT project the entire village had objected to the project, but all our cries fell on deaf ears. Now our traditional forest has been replaced with concrete forest, he said.