villagers opposing felling of tree for road

DAINIK NATION BUREAU

In order to save numerous trees of their evergreen forest from being axed for construction of the proposed Dang-Pokhri motor road, the residents of Dang village in Uttarkashi district have themselves constructed a stretch of the road skirting the trees. Opposing the axing of a large number of green trees for constructing road on the proposed route, the villagers are demanding that the government authorities work on the road they have built with voluntary labour under the banner of Green Chipko Dang Satyagraha Andolan. The residents of Dang village say that the jungle has nurtured many generations of villagers who in turn have protected the forest as they would protect their own children.

Addressing the media, the Dang Gram Pradhan Rajani Nath said that in order to save the forest and conserve the environment, the villagers had voluntarily laboured to build a 560 metre long stretch of the Dang-Pokhri road. The villagers are against the road alignment proposed by the Public Works Department upto Pokhri in order to protect thousands of trees. Local social worker Abhishek Jagudi said that the purpose behind the villagers undertaking voluntary labour to construct the road was to  protect the native culture-society and natural way of living. He said, “We want to protect our Gauchar (pasture), traditional source of water, forests, environment and the local ecology. Now there is no point in cutting green trees and destroying an evergreen forest to construct the road according to the earlier alignment. The land and forest contractors are conniving  together to exploit the opportunity of constructing the road through the village forest because they want to open their resorts, hotels and visitors’ huts. Their intention is not to facilitate progress by constructing the road but to take possession of the land and forest for their own benefit.” Mahila Mangal Dal head Kusum Gusain said that the people of Dang village had cut their own lands for building a stretch of the road on which vehicles have also started plying. The government and administration should respect the effort of the women of the village, she stressed. Appreciating the initiative and effort of the villagers, Suresh Bhai of Rakshasutra Andolan said that the villagers have presented a major example from which society and the government establishment should learn. He said, “The women have helped build the road in such a place where the forest wealth has not been damaged apart from which about 1,000 trees have been saved from the axe for now. The village women, with their courage and strong determination have done the work which big technical experts and engineers could not do, without taking any assistance from the government. Pressure will be exerted on the state government to be formed to acknowledge the struggle of the villagers,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that as part of a proposal passed in the Gram Panchayat, the entire village community had been labouring voluntarily since December 11, 2016 to build the 560 metre stretch of road without cutting down the jungle. The road built by the villagers without any governmental support is now being used by two-wheelers and even four-wheelers. The villagers are demanding that the government authorities should abandon the plan to construct the Dang-Pokhri road as per the alignment proposed which would entail cutting through the jungle. The authorities should improve upon the work done by the villagers and carry it further to complete the Dang-Pokhri road without damaging the environment, the villagers stress.

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