When laborers began excavating protected pastureland in India’s southern Karanataka state in 2012, members of the nomadic Lambani tribe were startled.
For centuries, the scarlet-robed herbalists and herders had freely crisscrossed the undulating meadow there, known as kavals, and this uprooting of their rich landscape came without warning or explanation.
By autumn, Puttaranga Setty, a wiry groundnut farmer from Kallalli, encountered a barbed-wire fence blocking off a well-used trail. His neighbor, a herder, discovered that the road from this city to a nearby village had been diverted elsewhere.
They rang Doddaullarti Karianna, a weaver who sits on one of the village councils that funnel India’s sprawling democracy down to the grassroots.
Karianna recalls being baffled and frightened by the news. He said the 365,000 residents of the farming and tribal communities who live in over 60 villages alongside the kavals believe they are protected by a female deity that rises from the pasture, and so the “thought of not having [access to] the kavals was terrifying; like saying there will be no Gods.”
Officials with India’s state and central governments refused to answer his questions. So Karianna sought legal help from a combative ecological-advocacy group in Bangalore that specializes in fighting illegal encroachment on greenbelt land.
But the group’s lawyers were also stymied. Officials warned its lawyers that the prime minister’s office was running the project from New Delhi.
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Source Credits: Adrian Levy in Newsweek Opinion. The photo above is a depiction of hydrogen bomb. It does not relate to the Indian site or the Indian bomb.