Kinkri Devi dead at 82

Jan. 6, 2008 at 11:38 AM

CHANDIGARH, India, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Kinkri Devi, who gained international fame for fighting against environmentally harmful mining and quarrying in India, has died at age 82.

She died Dec. 30 in Chandigarh, India, of age-related ailments, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Seeing the damage mine operators were inflicting in the mountainous northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Devi filed a public interest lawsuit in the High Court of Shimla against 48 owners, accusing them of reckless limestone quarrying.

After hearing no response to her suit, she staged 19-day hunger strike outside the court until it agreed to take up the issue.

In 1987, the court imposed a blanket moratorium on blasting in the hills. Mine owners later lost their appeal to the Supreme Court of India.

Devi was invited to attend the International Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995 because of keen interest taken in her by then-U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton.

Devi, who was illiterate, also lobbied for a college in Sangrah, the village where she spent most of her life.

"It wasn't in my destiny to study," she said, "but I don't want others to suffer the way I did for want of education."

She is survived by a son and 12 grandchildren.

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