Kol - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Kols were once adept at unirrigated hill cultivation. Later, when they moved into the valleys, they could not easily adapt to wet rice cultivation. Therefore the Kol are not known today as agriculturists. They work more often as daily wage laborers, collectors of forest produce, and gatherers of wood fuel. They sell bundles of wood to their neighbors and at markets. The most important forest produce collected by them is the wood-apple, which is used for preparation of dyes and herbal Medicine; it is dried and sold at a good price. In 1946, W. G. Griffiths identified three strata among the Kol: the factory workers who were fairly well-off; the forest people and agriculturists who had enough to eat but no cash; and the wood and grass cutters who were the poorest of the lot. Their condition has not markedly changed since.

Land Tenure. A few Kols own land, but most are landless. Those who have land enjoy free ownership rights over a patch of land for three years, and after the lapse of this period they become bhumiswami (lord of the patch of land). As a result they cannot sell their land without the express permission of the district collector. The forest where they collect wood fuel or wood-apples belongs to the government but they do not pay any taxes. They also graze their cattle on government land for which no tax is paid.

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