(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)
In central India's Bastar region, sacred groves hold a special
place in community life, both spiritually and ecologically. Locally
known as dev gudis, many of these groves are surrounded by dense
forests that house several species of rare flora, including
medicinal plants, and fauna. In fact, Jason Funk, the author of
'Securing The Climate Benefits of Stable Forests', once described
India's sacred groves as 'stable forests', in an email interview
with this reporter.
However, many such sacred groves some of which are over 1,000
years old have either vanished over the years or suffered neglect
as a result of encroachment, farming activities in and around them,
uncontrolled cattle, and untamed growth of vegetation. It was in
2020 that Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel announced the
revival and restoration of dev gudis to transform them into centres
of learning, tourism and tribal culture.
The magical transformation of Chitalanka
Today, the Chitalanka sacred grove in Dantewada district is
nothing short of transformed. It has an attractive gate welcoming
tourists, a boundary wall, an open stage for holding cultural
performances and tribal festivals, washrooms and drinking water
facilities. It cost Rs 7.51 lakh to revamp the Chitalanka dev gudi,
spread over 2.5 acres, with funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National
Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the District Mineral
In Dantewada's four blocks, the initiative targeted dev gudis in
143 gram panchayats. Of these, 110 have been completed, 30 are in
progress, and work has yet to commence in three. In several
instances, the forest department played a proactive role in helping
the district administration revive the groves, supplying it with
saplings from nurseries.
Sunil Kumar Kashyap, the sarpanch of Chitalanka gram panchayat,
told 101Reporters: 'The place resembled a dense jungle with unkempt
vegetation spreading everywhere. After sundown, some of us feared
venturing into these places. But now, it attracts visitors in
Residents planted saplings of fruit trees, while visiting
artists painted the tree trunks in bright hues, Kashyap said,
further adding that the district administration had given these dev
gudis a new lease of life.
'Despite there being a sense of attachment, some of us weren't
actively involved in protecting our dev gudis. People were making
the place dirty. Now, the boundary wall keeps a check on intruders,
and at night, the main entrance is locked. Encroachers trying to
build houses near the edges are also discouraged,' he said.
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