RANCHI: Save the forest. That’s the motto of 100-odd women in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. Worried by rapid deforestation, they have taken it up themselves to protect around nine acres of forest land in their area. They are also running an awareness campaign so that more join them in this noble cause.
It is called Jungle Bachao Abhiyaan. A total of 104 women belonging to seven self help groups (SHG) are part of it. All are from Mahishgeda village under Anandpur Block. The programme is promoted by Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society.
The prime objective of Jungle Bachao Abhiyaan is to protect the forest and environment. Divided in four groups, these women guard the jungle from 6 am to 9 am from 4 pm to 6 pm. Armed with bamboo sticks, they also keep a tab on felling of trees by keeping a count. If anyone is found cutting trees or caught for other illegal activities in the forest, the women impose fines on them. Their zeal has yielded results as forest cover has increased and cutting trees unnecessarily has reduced.
Saroj Surin, who has been leading this campaign, says this was done to protect the jungle. “The decision was taken after we observed that trees near the village were being cut indiscriminately. Damage was caused also by mahua pickers, who set dry leaves on fire.”
“Surprisingly, within one year of the campaign, cutting of trees almost stopped as everyone realised that we would be there to stop them. Generally, we are there in groups of 25 in different shifts,” she added.
Sabina Kandulna informed there is a provision of imposing a fine of Rs 5,000 on people caught cutting trees. To maintain internal discipline, these women have also decided to slap a fine of Rs 200 on those who skip their turn to guard the forest. Kandulna said the money collected through fines is used to plant trees.