This committee was initiated by the NGO Gram Swaraj and works with 300 or so villages that are close to the forest. The purpose is to mobilize villagers to take care of the forest that they are traditionally using. The NGO organizes meetings among clusters of villages to explain how to protect the forest against fire as well as how to protect the wildlife. There are volunteers from these villages who keep Gram Swaraj updated on the work being done as well as reach out to them when they need help. Every year Gram Swaraj increases the number of villages it works with and the ultimate goal is to work with all villages around Similipal Reserve.
The committee is made up of 48 members, evenly divided by 24 males and 24 females. Every individual is a tribal representative, mostly from the Mankaria community. Other tribes represented include Santal and Munda. The main purpose and responsibility of the Mahabali Forest Protection Committee is to protect the forest and one of the significant steps being taken is to fully stop alcohol use. By stopping alcohol consumption they hope to reduce the number of people going into the forest to cut down trees to sell them. This money is then used to buy alcohol. Often when they know a man is drinking they will go to his house and explain the reasons why drinking is bad for him and his family. If he refuses to stop his actions the committee will often fine that individual.
Other issues they tackle are to stop certain rocks being mined from the forest. They will approach the government office, since they have the authority to stop mines, and then will seek their support. Then they directly to the mines and stage a strike. Overall, they are concerned about the destruction being done to the forest. This is not only harmful to the biodiversity but affects the livelihoods and revenue of these villagers who rely heavily on the forest for NTFP collection.
About 3-4 years ago Gram Swaraj, along with the committee, organized a foot march rally that lasted for 11 days and went through 160 villages. During this march they explained the importance of the forest and why it should be protected. After the march more people had gained awareness and joined the committee. One of the main events that the Mahabali Committee does annually is to go to the forest and celebrate a festival called Raksha Bandhan. This celebration is a common occurrence observed in every household. Every sister will tie a Rakhi on her brother(s) wrist and it is believed that the brother(s) will be protected from all dangers. Similarly the committee members will go to the forest and tie a Rakhi on a tree as a way to spread the message not to cut down the trees but protect it. Likewise, they believe when the forest is treated with such regard then the trees will protect the people as well.