Project: Siwalik Erosion and Gujjar Community of Himachal Pradesh: A study in the light of the Colonial Policies
Presentation: Formation of chos/khads and role of Gujjars in the Erosion of Siwalik Range
Dr. Bindu Sahni
This presentation is a part of my fourth chapter. The Project has been divided into six chapters, followed by an introduction. In the second chapter Migration and Settlement Pattern of Gujjars has been elaborated. Third chapter is about the customary rights of the Gujjars in Himachal Pradesh. In the hills, main profession of the Gujjars is cattle rearing. Gujjars in these hills were given special hereditary rights by the then local Rajas, known as warisee rights by which they were authenticated to avail the forest tracts for grazing of their cattle. In the Colonial period they had to face different set of forest rules, distinct from their traditional rights which were implemented by the British Indian Government for using the forests.
The forth Chapter is about the formation of chos/khads in the Siwalik region. Siwalik range is disbursed in Una, Kangra, Bilaspur, Sirmaur, Mandi, and some part of Chamba districts of Himachal Pradesh. The chos are the direct result of the deforestation of the Siwaliks hills. The eroded ranges of the Siwaliks resulted into the creation of enormous chos. Siwalik ranges between the Beas and the Sutlej is sharper than towards the west and more deforested than to the east which was cause of frequent erosions in the region. The unique formation of chos is found in Una and Kangra districts which were under the sway of British Indian Government and they exploited the forests of these hills which resulted in the denudation of the Siwalik range. Britishers seriously blamed Gujjars for precipitating the problem of the erosion in the Siwalik region. This feeling solely determined the attitude of British towards Gujjars during the colonial period. If Gujjars were blamed for this erosion then in the area of Bilaspur and Sirmour, where Gujjars were considered as primer settlers of villages in the Sajra nasibs (genealogical record), there also might be the same condition but the situation is different there. Nonetheless, our data of colonial period clearly point towards British Indian Government policies which were instrumental in the formation of the chos/khads and reclaimed hectors of the fertilized land of the area.
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