15 June, 2021

Invasion Of The White Ants

Termites eat their way into houses in Hanumankoliwada village in Raigad district

Invasion Of The White Ants

HANUMANKOLIWADA could be a ghost village. Its structural frames emit a hollow, deathly rattle that stems from an unlikely scourge—termites. But the 130 koli households displaced in 1986 to accommodate the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) have learnt to live with this white plague. They have nowhere else to go.

Of all the dislodged villages in the 3,086 hectares acquired by the JNPT, Hanumankoliwada alone is marked by this cross of death. Ramesh Bhaskar Koli, a resident, attributes this to the unseemly haste with which the state government, in tandem with the Central government's need for land, used termite-infested earth from the surrounding mountainside for landfill. The marshy land, on which this 'termite earth' was dumped, was not even given the requisite six-month period to settle. "I was just a little boy. Nobody would listen when I showed them the soil crawling with these insects. Villagers were lured by the promise of government vehicles to shift the construction material from houses which they had torn down themselves....

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