Tumkur conflict, Karnataka, India


A mass movement took place in 1983 in Tumkur district. In the villages of Barka and Holatalli, the peasants marched to the local nursery and pulled out eucalypt seedlings and planted tamarind seeds in their place. They made it clear to the Forest Range Officer that they were only against eucalypts and not against any other variety of saplings. They told forest officials that they would cooperate with them in the planting of other species. The police arrested some of the agitators but were at a loss when villagers thronged forward offering to court arrest. The police was helpless against 1500 villagers and finally released all of them. A few days later, another big gathering took place in the village of Neginahall. The villagers decided to continue their actions against eucalypts. The forest nursery at Buddhigavi became the target. As the eucalypt saplings were pulled out, the police came and arrested the people. They were severely beaten up. However, when the police van carrying the arrested persons approached the village, the entire village, including women, came out in support of the victims. The police had to resort to lathi charge and the bursting of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd. The cause of this was a scarcity of fodder, fuel and fertilisers in the villages adjacent to the plantations. It became evident within 6–7 years. As the saplings grew into trees, they cropped up an additional problem: water scarcity. Also, large landowners had started cultivating eucalypts instead of staple crops such as ragi. As a result, the demand for labourers has been reduced drastically and the price of ragi has gone up.

Basic Data
NameTumkur conflict, Karnataka, India
Provincesouthern part of the Karnataka state
SiteTumkur district
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesCellulose
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Karnataka Social Forestry Project started in 1983, its primary objective was to increase supply of fuelwood to rural and semi-urban areas through the establishment of 1.50 lakhs (150 000) hectares of plantations located throughout the State. The Tumkur plantations would be a small but significant part of this project.
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2000-5000
Start Date1983
End Date1983
Relevant government actorsForest Department
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Landless peasants
Forms of MobilizationLand occupation
Street protest/marches
- The protesters, with women participation, marched to the local nursery and pulled out eucalyptus seedlings and planted tamarind and mango seeds in their place. "Jail bharo abhiyan" (fill-the-jail campaigns).
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Groundwater pollution or depletion, Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage)
OtherThere was at the time, the early 1980s, a strong discussion on water guzzling by eucalyptus plantations in Karnataka and elsewhere in india.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts
Other- Loss of fodder, fuel and fertilisers in the villages adjacent to the plantations.

- Loss of employment opportunities as local landlords turned to eucalyptus plantations.
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseRepression
Violent targeting of activists
- Imprisonment of protesters
- Protesters severely beaten up.
- The police resorted to lathi charges and the bursting of tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Strong mobilizations against eucalyptus monocultures but apparently few concrete results.
Sources and Materials

- Umayya, P., and B. Dogra, 1983. Grassroots protest against a tree. The Telegraph, 11 November 1983. (Newspaper article)

- Asia-Pacific People’s Environment Network (APPEN), 1984. The eucalyptus: a tree of controversy. Penang: APPEN.


Vandana Shiva and Jayanta Banyopahdyay wrote several articles in the early 1980s against social forestry with eucalyptus in India, including the Tumkur (Karnataka) conflict, and carried out an "ecological audit"
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ContributorJ.-F. Gerber
Last update03/05/2014