Basanti Devi, ‘Padam Shri’ recipient,  a relentless crusader for environment and women empowerment  

Listen to this article

Basanti Devi, ‘Padam Shri’ recipient,  a relentless crusader for environment and women empowerment


Pithoragarh, Jan 28

Basanti Devi, who has been awarded ‘Padma Shri’ from Uttarakhand state this year, for her contribution and work in social and environmental work, has been a relentless crusader in  ‘Save Kosi river movement’ from Kausani Ashram, Almora district. She has also put in 40 years of long work in the sphere of women empowerment.

Basanti Devi has also been awarded ‘Nari Shakti Award 2016, ‘Devi award’ in 2016 and ‘Femina Women Jury’ award in 2027 for her social work.

“I was born in Digra village of Kanalichina block of Pithoragarh district in the year 1958. I was in class 5th student when  my marriage was solemnised with a boy who was a student of 11th class but soon after marriage, my husband died and I became a young widow.” said Basanti Devi talking to this correspondent.

After being a widow, her relatives wanted her to marry again but her father insisted on her further education and sent her to Mahila Ashram, Kausani, established by eminent Gandhian  Sarala Behn in 1980.

” One  of my relatives, a disabled boy used to study in the Ashram, when I went there to meet him I find the atmosphere there above untouchability  social discrimination and full of dignity for women. I remained there with the consent of my father.” said Basanti Devi .

After joining the Mahila Ashram in Kausani, Basanti Devi was given the work of opening “Bal Waris” in Danya area of Almora where she opened several “Bal Waris” in remote villages.”I also completed my education till intermediate during that period.” said Basanti Devi .

After some time she was given work to save environment and water in Kosi river as the water flow in the watershed fed river was continuously depleting. ” When we started work in Kosi area, the condition of women was worst, they used to be involved in bringing fire wood from jungle and work in the fields.

“After several trips, when I could not find any women in villages, I went  to the forest and requested them not to cut live trees and shrubs as due to this cutting the  perennial water sources of the area are depleting,” said Basanti Devi.

Basanti and her team not only persuaded village women not to cut live trees and use dry ones as fuel, but also fought forest department for falling big trees.

“When the village women agreed to take my advise, we organised them in the forms of  Mahila Sangthan in  almost 50 villages from Kausani to Katli village in Someshwar.” said Basanti Devi.

According to Basanti Devi, women organisations not only worked toward saving environment of Kosi region but also empowered women by the way of their increased participation in social works.”Now women had started taking part in social works,” said Basanti Devi.

For 20 years, Basanti Devi used to travel in 50 villages of Kosi region with the aim of saving trees, environmental, empowering women and working against consumption of liquor.

“It started resulting into surplus water in once almost dry area of Kosi watershed region, now, after revival of some old springs, the villagers of Someshwar area have started cultivating to grow paddy crop,” said Basanti Devi.

“My work is continue even today, I go to advise the women organisations whenever the call me, but from last two years, I have started living in Pithoragarh district, where my father has built a house for me,” said Basanti Devi.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
error: Content is protected !!