Man treks 5 km into forest to earn daily bread

Man treks 5 km into forest to earn daily bread
Highlights

Bang in the coal belt area, here is a senior citizen who makes his living by selling charcoal, which he struggles to make day after day. 

Kothagudem: Bang in the coal belt area, here is a senior citizen who makes his living by selling charcoal, which he struggles to make day after day.

The 65-year-old man, Neekantha Kannaiah, toils by venturing 5 km into forest and gathering firewood. He makes charcoal by burning the wood. He has been doing this from the tender age of 15 years, when he started the vocation to support his family.

In his adult years, he had resolved to lead an independent life. A resident of Lenin colony in the town, Kannaiah says he wants to set an example of how, against odds, one can lead an independent life without being burden to anyone. He earns just Rs 150 per day.

Until recently, other members of this family used to chip in. His wife, two sons and daughter also used to venture into the forests to make charcoal. He lost his wife Ramakka and the eldest son. These deaths pushed him into agony. He recovered soon and continued with his struggle for existence with his youngest son, after getting his daughter married.

He walks deep into the forest, at least for 5 km. Upon gathering wood, he sets fire to it to make charcoal. He carries a yoke to bring charcoal, which he sells for about Rs 150. At times, he sustains burns on his hands and legs while collecting charcoal from the embers.

Kannaiah has been selling charcoal ever since it was being at the rate of Rs 10 per yoke (two bags at either end of a pole which is carried on shoulder). Now, a yoke of charcoal sells for Rs 150.

Not unlike those who work hard and party hard, Kannaiah spends at least Rs 50 every day on arrack, despite his meagre earnings. “Just to forget the hardship,” he says. Presently without a roof over his head, he has appealed to the State government for allotment of a double bed-room house.

By PV Satyanarayana

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