Women in the Jakhani village in Uttarakhand's Bageshwar district revived the symbolic Chipko movement in the state.
On Monday, March 16, the villagers gathered in the nearby forest. They hugged trees to prevent them from cutting down for the proposed construction of Kamedi Devi-Rang Tara-Mazgaon-Chautala road.
They said that the forest was sacred and dedicated to a Goddess. The villagers said they had taken a pledge to save the trees on the line of 'one woman-one tree'.
Chipko movement was a forest conservation movement in India that began in 1973 in Uttarakhand. The movement soon became a rallying point for many future environmental movements all over the world.
The 2-kilometre-long road construction was sanctioned in 2009, but the construction was stalled after the villagers in Seri and Jakhani protested. The same year, villagers of Majgaon, next to Jakhani, moved to High Court for the construction, and the HC ruled in their favour, reported Hindustan Times.
Last week, the villagers of Seri village staged a protest and halted the construction, but the local administration continued the road work with the police personnel's help.
The villagers said that the area was already facing environmental problems. If trees are cut, it would not only deteriorate the situation but also aggravate the water scarcity in the area.
"We don't need the road that will require the sacrifice of at least 500 trees. The village already has a water crisis, and cutting these trees will further aggravate the situation. The residents of Jakhani village depend on forest produce for their livelihood. How will we survive once the forest is gone?" village Sarpanch, Kamla Devi, Sarpanch, said.
Jakhani villagers had grown the 1.5 km long and 8km wide forest on private land generations ago. "Our ancestors planted this forest. Since then, it has developed into rich biodiversity. Finishing the forest would throw wild animals at the mercy of poachers and give rise to human-animal conflict," Devi further added.
Speaking on the issue, junior engineer in the Public Works Department (PWD), Ishwar Joshi, said that the department was constructing a road in the district magistrate's directions. "Villagers from one of the villages are opposing the felling of trees. We have informed our senior officials about the protest," he added.