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Struggle against deforestation continues, says environmentalist

On the occasion of World Environment day, Kalyan Singh Rawat, the self-motivated environmentalist who participated in the famous Chipko Movement as a student, remembered Gaura Devi, a  key figure in the famous struggle against deforestation. She earned her recognition in the Chipko Movement, and according to Rawat, was the real fighter of this mass movement, but unfortunately she never got her due recognition today by government or the people.

He said, ‘Today’s gizmos-loving generation has no emotions and apathy towards forest conservation and they are least concerned for the preservation of our natural heritage. The naked mountains of hills are weeping silently and asking where we are heading for?’

A teacher by profession and environmentalist by passion, Rawat has fought many battles single-handedly for the preservation and conservation of forests. He has travelled far and wide in the newly-formed hill state, and he believes that natural forests are shrinking at an alarming rate due to lackadaisical attitude of forest department and ignorance of people from the hills. Many villages in hills are deserted due to mass migration of youths in search of employment.

In 1995, he started Maiti Movement from Gwaldan in Chamoli district, with the sole aim of participation by common people in the conservation of forests. It is a unique grassroots  afforestation  programme. Thus, the pious process of planting a sapling by bride and bridegroom, initiated on the occasion of their marriage ceremony began.  Daughters and mothers of hills are  an integral part of Maiti organization, which helps the newly-wed bride to plant tree at their Myaka.

This small movement took its gigantic shape as this Maiti Andolan spread its wings in other states and  foreign countries. So much so that, the Indonesian government has made it mandatory to plant tree by bridegroom before tying the nuptial knot.
Sandeep Bankhwal

Sandeep Bankhwal

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