When the sound of a tree branch getting cut got louder, Meena Menon cut a strand of her hair, standing in front of a small crowd at her Santhivanam, a green campus of sacred groves, spread over two acres in Ernakulam’s North Paravur taluk.
She had been fighting with the Kerala State Electricity Board that’s wanted to cut trees off her land to run its proposed 110 KV electricity supply line. On Wednesday, 19 June, when men came to cut off branches of eight trees from the mini forest, where KSEB towers are fixed, Meena protested by cutting her hair at the same time.
She said to the small crowd that gathered there,
"“This is the only way that I could protest. Democracy is watching me fight this battle. And I have fought in every way that an ordinary person could fight legally. I did my most. For what I am doing now – cutting my hair – I don’t need permission from anyone, neither the KSEB nor the police.”" - Meena Menon, Protester
The KSEB officials were at first stopped by members of the Santhivanam Conservation Committee, since quite a few trees have already been cut, but they came back with police support. Meena, while cutting her hair, declared that she is dedicating the strands to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who has still not replied to her pleas and to Electricity Minister MM Moni.
“I have been waiting for a long time for the CM’s reply. This hair is for you comrade. And this next one, for you comrade Mani. These last two are for the KSEB and for every ordinary person out there. It is a lesson for you, seeing what happens to a person who tries to save biodiversity. These are 200-year-old sacred groves.
My father and then I have never harmed them for the last 50 years we have had them. But now this is happening, and there will be the curse of every little living being in those forests. It’s nature’s curse and no one can escape it,” Meena said.
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