Sacred Groves of Rajasthan

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    Context

    • Recently, a unique yatra was taken out through remote villages and hamlets in western Rajasthan to raise demand for the protection of orans or sacred groves.

    About

    • The participants in the march travelled for 225 km with the pledge to preserve the sacred groves as the lifelines for the desert.
    • Tradition dictates that no tree or plant in the groves is cut and only seasonal grazing of livestock is allowed.

    Significance of Orans:

    • Named after local deities and medieval warriors, orans hold religious and social significance as small forest patches in the middle of the mighty Thar desert.
    • The orans have a rich diversity of traditional flora and fauna and water bodies and are considered sacred and preserved by the locals
    • Orans also form the natural habitat for India’s most critically endangered bird, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB).

    Concerns:

    • The adverse impact of fast-paced industrialisation and encroachment of pasture land on the trees, wildlife, people’s livelihood and the local ecosystem.
    • The orans or sacred groves are facing the threat of destruction with their land being allotted for renewable energy infrastructure and high-tension power lines.
    • GIBs have died during the last few years because of collisions with power lines.
    • The land was also diverted for agriculture and other projects of the administration.

    Way Ahead:

    • The oran land’s allotment for setting up solar plants can be stopped if it is recognised as protected land in the gair mumkin category

    Source: TH