Although the van panchayat came into existence way back in 1950, the condition of the forest under its control deteriorated by the 1980s. ‘The forest that was very dense and thick was slowly razed to the ground by people and contractors. People faced immense difficulty to meet their biomass requirements and fields became barren,’ says Mahendra Singh Varma, the ex-pradhan (village head). Meanwhile, an NGO called Central Himalayan Research Action Group (CHIRAG) started working in the area. The NGO was mainly carrying out land restoration and biodiversity conservation programmes. In 1988 Varma approached the organisation to take up his van panchayat under their project. The NGO agreed to take up one part of the forest and thus a unique effort of restoration involving people and workers began.
1950 – Van Panchayat came into existence. It is responsible to protect the entire forest. However, the forest was razed to a barren ground by 1980’s.
In 1988 an ex-Sarpanch invited an NGO-CHIRAG to help them revive the forest.
1988 – CHIRAG, Piloted restoration work in a small part of the forest along with the villagers. At the behest of the villagers, they adopted a policy on fresh plantations of fodder and fruit species and natural regeneration while reducing pressure on the forest. Care was taken to meet people’s biomass needs by providing them alternatives. First, they were convinced to sell unproductive animals, mostly goats and additional loans were given to buy milch cows. People, after some resistance, agreed. They were then provided gobar gas plants at subsidised rates. This also became popular in the village. This helped reduce pressure on the forest and became crucial in the success of the programme.
Post 1988 – 8 member Van Suraksha samiti (VSS) set up by the community at the behest of CHIRAG NGO, to take care of the project area. 4 members are women, and 2 members of the VSS are also members of the Van Panchayat group. Both have the same goal – Protect the forest 1999 -Women’s self-help group (SHG), This 12- member group is engaged in saving and thrift activities and all four women members of th