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Women make trees their brothers to protect forest

Last Updated: Friday, September 3, 2010 - 14:28

Rourkela: A number of young women have
decided to take upon themselves the responsibility of saving
the forest in Sambalpur near here from timber mafia by
attaching themselves emotionally to the trees and protecting
them as they would their own brothers.

The reserve forest atop the Budharaja hillock in
Sambalpur town, about 150 km from here, has been losing is
green grandeur as a consequence of large-scale felling by
timber smugglers.

The Budharaja Surakhsa Samiti, which has been trying
to protect the forest from axes for a long time but without
much success, has decided to involve in its effort hundreds of
young women, most of them college students, who are concerned
about the deteriorating health of the forest.

The women tied rakhies to the trees this past Raksha
Bandhan and took the pledge to protect their "tree-brothers"
as they would protect their blood brothers.

"The tying of a rakhi on someone means you will
protect him till your last breath. Similarly tying a rakhi on
a tree bestows on me the responsibility to protect my
tree-brother to the best of my ability," said Sangita, a
second-year college student.

Environmentalist Rushi Patra said that the
`experiment` was first tried in 2008 with modest success, but
in the following two years it caught the fancy of the young
and old from all walks of life, especially in Sambalpur city.

The forest, spread across 126 acres, has witnessed
many important historic events such as the heroic battle
fought by freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai against the

Since the end of the 1980s, the forest is being
reduced to a barren expanse thanks to constant attacks by the
timber smugglers, Patra said.

However, she said "We have been successful in our
two-decade-long efforts in transforming the giant bald patch
back into a verdant green expanse again."

A temple in the forest and a moat around it are in
ruins due to years of disuse till a group of locals formed a
committee to restore them to their original state, Loknath
Panda, a member of the Budharaja temple trust, said.


First Published: Friday, September 3, 2010 - 14:28
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