Green Heroes: Uttarakhand anti-felling crusader

I realised women's participation would help greatly in stopping destruction of forests, says Kalyan Singh Rawat.

Kalyan Singh Rawat, 52

Like any happily married woman, Rajshree Joshi (42) a resident of Nainital has fond memories of her marriage that took place in December 1996. Sixteen years down the line, Rajshree has two kids and a Guava tree.

Taking cue from ‘Maiti’ movement, Rajshree, during her marriage ceremony planted sapling of Guava plant, which has now turned into a fully grown fruit bearing tree.

Thanks to the efforts made by green crusader – Kalyan Singh Rawat (52), Maiti is now a household name in mountain state Uttarakhand, which has nearly 65% forest cover.

Rawat, a teacher by profession in early 90’s decided to sensitise people about importance of green cover, even as pressure on forest for fodder and firewood was increasing.

“In hilly areas women are forced to walk miles in search of grass, wood and drinking water. The destruction of forests could not be prevented in hills without active participation of women, therefore I thought of Maiti” he says.

‘Mait’ means parental home of bride. The Maiti ceremony fosters planting of sapling as part of the nuptial ceremony. During the ritual, bridegroom plants a sapling as a token of love for the bride’s parents and relatives. They all take care once bride leaves for her in law’s place.

Now such is the popularity of the Maiti movement that it has crossed beyond Uttarakhnad. Maiti is running successfully in eighteen other states including Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, down south in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, claims Rawat.



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