Balaghat women curb felling of trees

Suraksha Samiti members wield lathis, impose fine on those found with an axe

August 23, 2020 11:40 pm | Updated 11:41 pm IST - Bhopal

Members of Van Devi Suraksha Samiti in Balaghat district.

Members of Van Devi Suraksha Samiti in Balaghat district.

For years, there had been indiscriminate felling of trees in the Birsa area of Balaghat district in Madhya Pradesh rendering acres of fertile land barren. As things came to a head two years ago, local women came together, wielding lathis, to shoo away those felling trees and impose a fine on them.

“We had to take ownership of the forest near us, take its responsibility. This was the only way to protect it,” said Kavita Sahu, 28, on the phone, from Kaniya village. Foresters tasked with curbing the felling patrolled in vain. A challenge had to be mounted from within the community. And women took the lead.

Nearly 250 acres of land is now seeing a revived foliage with foresters planting saplings and women taking initiative to protect them. In addition, the 34 women members of the Van Devi Suraksha Samiti from four villages are preventing deforestation by imposing a ₹500 fine on those found with an axe.

Since women are tasked with venturing into forests to cut trees, fetch fuel wood, only women can stop them, believes Ms. Sahu, president of the group.

“Sustainable use of forests by picking fruits and medical plants judiciously, allowing enough time for their replenishment must be the way,” said Kamla Bai, 52, a member. Three times a day, the women in groups of four-five patrol the forest having harra, bahera and teak varieties, keeping foresters informed of any illegal activity.

Leadership roles adopted by women have united them, made them more aware of environmentalism.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.