Van Panchayats – Keeping Forests Healthy And People Happy! Prem Chadha and Taarika Chugh January 24, 2013 community development, Environment, Rain Water Harvesting, Uttarakhand, Women Collecting fodder and firewood to keep the household running would once take four hours of Sunita Arya’s time in Almora district of Uttarakhand every day. Today, she spend just half-an-hour on the same chores. What brought about this almost magical turnaround? The systematic protection of the village forest, thanks to an effective 'van panchayat' (forest governance unit).