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Devbrat Patnaik

Mayurbhanj: It is said that every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of gold and silver. Well, in worship of the Mother Nature, the womenfolk in Punasia village under Bangiriposi of Mayurbhanj district have corroborated, better than anyone else, the significance of preservation of forests and green cover in the ecosystem.

For close to two decades now, the women of a self-help group here have been fighting against deforestation. For them, preserving the forests has been the sole aim since the day they have realized its value.

Sources say the entire stretch of forest land spread over 80 hectares near Punasia was completely ravaged by the timber mafia. Once covered with lush green gigantic trees, the forests gradually turned almost barren due to large-scale wood trafficking.

 

However, the efforts of a few men initially, and the reforestation challenge which was later taken up by these women, made sure that trees reappeared, and reappeared the birds and animals as its inhabitants.

“The area was densely covered with forests but then the forest division was phase-wise. When the SHG was formed, women took up the matter in their own hands. We will continue to protect the environment till we are alive, and we’ve ensured the same trickles down to the next generation,” said Soudamini Mahakud, a villager.

Not only did they made frequent forays into the forests, but the SHG was so determined that it engaged women in shifts to constantly patrol the forests to strengthen their campaign against illegal chopping of trees.

reforestation

“Whenever we find someone cutting down trees, we have managed to nab the miscreant(s) and handed him over to the local Forester,’ said another villager.

Speaking on the measures undertaken, Forest conservationist Sanjukta Panda said, “We had formed a few SHG groups in this village back in the year 2000. Ever since they took up the responsibility, the forest seems smiling again in joy. The women are constantly in touch with me to seek suggestions when any issue crops up."

The rebirth of Punasia forests and the reforestation movement behind, is undoubtedly a lesson for all generations to come.

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