This Project, Where they Belong, metaphorically focuses on the worldwide phenomenon of development, industrial expansions and its consequences, shown as a study of the Mahan Forest and the 62 villages which are dependent on this forest reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India. The Mahan forests have not yet been destroyed and the lush canopy of trees still harbours significant biodiversity. But beneath this forest lie 14 years worth of coal reserves – the area is now allocated to Mahan Coal Ltd for mining.
The indigenous communities and their social, cultures life centred around the Mahan forest will be adversely affected by this surge in consumption. The tribals are trying to hold their ground against the inevitable and yet are preparing for the exodus, knowing in their hearts that their forest will be snatched away from them, sooner or later.
Hence what has commenced is a trend of rural to urban migration and the social problems associated with a sense of poverty that accompanies such laboured displacement.
What lies at stake is a forest which is an integral part of their identity, of who they are & where they belong.