Orissa tribal women
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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 17, 2007
Orissa tribal women campaign to protect forests
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Orissa tribal women campaign to protect forests

The lush green surroundings of the Kechobahal Village in Orissas Jharsuguda District today owes its existence to the Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Committee) formed by local tribal women here.

By Sarada

Kechobahal (Orissa), May 17 : The lush green surroundings of the Kechobahal Village in Orissa's Jharsuguda District today owes its existence to the Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Committee) formed by local tribal women here.

Around fifty tribal women have united themselves to prevent the rampant deforestation being caused by the timber mafia.

The otherwise docile-looking members of the Van Suraksha Samiti roam around the village and forests armed with sticks.

At times, these women would snatch axes or fight with the goons of forest mafia to protect their forests.

"We decided to guard the forests. Initially, we got together and formed a committee. Around 40 to 50 women got together and we started taking care of the forest. Most of the mafia fled and those left were apprehended and handed over to police by us.

When we asked for help, young men and forest officials extended a helping hand to us," said Shanti Pradhan, Van Suraksha Samiti's secretary.

Forest officials said that the tribal women were largely responsible for saving the forest cover in the region.

"Earlier, the women used to cut trees and were involved in illegal mining which were destroying the forests.

When told that if nothing was done to save the forests, the future generations would suffer immensely, the women formed a committee to save the forest from the jungle mafia.

And, it has been due to the efforts of these women that illegal cutting of woods have nearly stopped," said Upendra Kishore Majhi, a forest official.

The women have formed small teams that work in turns guarding the area. They have also helped afforestation in 60 hectares of land, which once stood barren.

Orissa has a forest cover of 31 per cent as against 33 per cent mandated by the Central Government. The pressure on forestland is attributed to burgeoning population, besides illegal felling.

ANI

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