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Interesting Facts About Amrita Devi Beniwal

Do you know about the Chipko movement? Read more to know about Amrita Devi Beniwal's significant role in the movement. 


You might have come across the information about the Chipko movement in your school textbooks. Do you know about its reason and significance? This big revolution took place in the I700s that turned a simple villager into a national figure and renowned environmentalist. We are talking about Amrita Devi Beniwal. She made a vital sacrifice to protect the environment.  

In 1730 AD, at a small village of Rajasthan named Khejarli in Jodhpur District, a major incident took place. The Maharaja (ruler) of Marwar (Jodhpur) ordered people to cut khejri trees to burn lime for building work of his new palace. The village was known as Khejarli because Khejri trees were available in large quantities at that place. 


On the other hand, Amrita Devi was at her home. She was staying with her daughters named Asu, Ratni, and Bhagu bai. At that time, she saw some men cutting trees. She belonged to the Bishnoi religion. Trees are sacred to the community and she protested the mass cutting of trees. She considered it a deed of shame and said that she would rather die but will not let them cut trees. She said, "If a tree is saved even at the cost of one’s head, it’s worth it.” After saying this, she offered her head to the axe. Her head was struck by the axe that was involved in cutting the trees. Her head was cut by it and her daughters ran to the spot, hugged the tree, and offered their head. Even their head was chopped off.


The Chipko Movement:


The news of the incident spread quickly. The people from the Bishnoi community from nearby 83 villages agreed that this sacrifice wouldn't go unsuccessful.  They decided that one head in the sacrifice of each tree that was cut would be offered. People began to sacrifice their life. Older people began the campaign and young ones followed. As a result, the total death toll from the incident was 363. Each one of them hugged the tree and laid down their life. This was the origin of the Chipko Movement. The whole system was shaken by the incident. When the ruler came to know about it, he quickly ordered it. 


Environment conservation efforts- 


This simple act of supreme sacrifice has become a widespread revolution for the protection of the environment. To honor the efforts of Amrita Devi, the Department of forest under the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh government gives the state-level Amrita Devi Bishnoi Smriti Award. The people who make crucial contributions to the protection of the environment are felicitated with this award. 


Every year, tree plantation drives are held as an act of remembrance for the significant contribution of the village women. The environment conservation efforts that began two centuries back are the origin of the well-known Chipko Movement in Uttarakhand. We salute the brave and selfless efforts of Amrita Devi Beniwal who did not accept compromise on the conservation of the environment. 


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