In Bansuri Nagari, tigers’ roar, flute tunes lead poll sound track - Hindustan Times

In Bansuri Nagari, tigers’ roar, flute tunes lead poll sound track

By, Pilibhit
Apr 15, 2024 06:30 AM IST

BJP says flute manufacturers were in trouble due to neglect by both SP and BSP regimes but ODOP scheme has given them renewed hope, Opposition counters this view. Even as poll rivals claim credit for forest conservation, tigers on the prowl cause fear in villages in the constituency

In a symphony of contrasts, the roar of tigers and melodious flute tunes co-exist in the high pitched election campaign in Pilibhit, also known as the Bansuri Nagari (Flute City).

A flute maker at work in Pilibhit and flutes (HT Photo)
A flute maker at work in Pilibhit and flutes (HT Photo)

While the flute is a symbol of communal harmony here with Muslims making the instrument identified with Lord Krishna, according to fifth generation artisan Iqrar Nabi, the movement of tigers in human habitation spells fear among villagers settled near the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR).

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So important are the two issues for the local people that the 2024 Lok Sabha election candidates vie to highlight the measures taken by their respective governments for promotion of the flute and wild life conservation in the area.

During the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) governments, the flute manufacturers were in trouble due to neglect by both the regimes, said Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) district unit president Sanjiv Pratap Singh.

The BJP government is working for revival of the flute industry by including the flute in One District One Product (ODOP) scheme, Singh said, adding that Pilibhit is famous across the country as a flute- manufacturing hub.

Addressing a public meeting in Pilibhit on April 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had highlighted the promotion of eco-tourism, Tiger Reserve and flute manufacturing in the district, Singh said.

“Majority of the people involved in flute-making are Muslims. The state government is giving them loans under the PM Svanidhi yojana to set up manufacturing units and to promote the export of flutes. The state government has also provided them space in the city to set up shops,” he said. Currently, the manufacturers transport raw bamboo from Assam (Barak Valley) to manufacture flutes.

To cut costs, plantation of bamboo is being promoted in Puranpur tehsil of the district, Singh said.

Making a counter-point, SP district unit president Jagdish Singh Jagga said the problem of flute makers started when the BJP government came to power.

The measures taken by the SP government for the promotion of the flute makers is being highlighted in the campaign launched by the party, he said.

Joining issue, Bahujan Samaj Party district unit president Bhagwan Singh Gautam Singh said the party candidate Anis Ahmed Khan aka Phool Babu had worked for the welfare of the flute makers when BSP was in power from 2007-12.

Khan, a native of Pilibhit, is aware of flute- makers’ problems and will raise their issues with the state and central government after winning the election, he said.

Flute maker Iqrar Nabi said the state government has made good policies for the promotion of the flute industry but the administration has not been able to implement policies at the ground level. The export of flute has declined, he added.

Earlier, 3,000 families were involved in flute-making but today merely 400 families settled in various localities of the city are making the instrument.

To promote the flute, the state government should introduce the instrument in schools, he suggested.

“Bamboo is transported from Barak Valley in Assam to Pilibhit. The imposition of GST on bamboo and the increase in the transportation cost has added to the woes of the flute-makers,” he said.

In the rural areas of the district, the villagers settled near the tiger reserve are scared of tiger movements in the human habitation and increasing instances of man- animal conflict.

On April 8, a tiger killed a farmer Bholeram near Puraini Deep Nagar village while he was working in a field. The villagers registered a protest, demanding protection and compensation to family members of the deceased farmer.

The residents of Pandhari village put up a banner announcing boycott of the Lok Sabha election if the administration failed to check the tiger menace.

The villagers said they had urged the administration to launch a combing operation after a tiger killed a youth in February. The tiger can be seen moving in the outskirts of the village and attacking cattle, they added.

The forest department officers held a meeting with the villagers and urged them to withdraw the poll boycott.

A villager Sarvjeet Verma said this year, four people have fallen prey to tigers in the villages located near the Pilbhit Tiger Reserve. There are around 160 villages near the forest area and the movement of tigers has increased near 50 villages, he said.

As 1.25 lakh people are settled near the forest and the state government should ensure their safety, he said, adding that the forest department blames villagers for attack on tigers.

On his part, BJP district unit president Sanjiv Pratap Singh said after the party came to power at the Centre in 2014, measures were taken for forest conservation in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve.

After check on poaching, the tiger count increased to 72 with some big cats moving out of the forest area in search of food. The state government has started fencing the forest area to check man- animal conflict, he said.

District forest officer Manish Singh said the 72,000-hectrate tiger reserve is different from other forests as it passes through human settlements in a zig zag manner, at some points, where the lines between forest and sugarcane field is blurred.

With the number of tigers and leopards increasing, the big cats are on the prowl in the sugarcane fields and in areas around canals.

“We have deputed Bagh Mitra (friends of the tiger) in villages near the forest. They are local youths, who maintain a watch on movement of tigers and alert the villagers,” he said.

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