Environmental revolution in Baripada

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Source: Seva-English      Date: 09 Oct 2012 17:27:41

$img_titleIf the youths of this nation vow to bring development, then nothing is impossible. Baripada village in Maharashtra’s Dhule district is a brilliant example of such youth- Chaitram Pawar's dedicated efforts.
Baripada is a small village located on the border of Maharashtra and Gujarat, about 400 km from Mumbai. Earlier, the village faced scarcity of firewood, food and water due to the deforestation that was prevalent on a large scale. Chaitram Pawar, an educated youth from the village, decided to take reins in his hands. In spite of having a post graduate degree in commerce, he turned down many handsome job offers and decided to work for the uplift of his village. Under the guidance of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, he organized the villagers and thus the foundation was laid for self-development.
$img_titleThe first and foremost step in this direction was to stop deforestation. Illegal cutting of trees was in full swing and the hill near the village that was once wrapped in green cover was turning barren. Pawar convinced the villagers that if deforestation continued, their access to dry wood, fruits and other minor forest produce will be cut off. In a village gathering, in the year 1993, a local information committee called Forest Protection Committee (FPC) was set up. It was decided that the committee will not have any permanent members. The objective behind the decision was that each family would get a chance to represent this committee turn by turn. Thus, all the families of the village were given a stake in the entire process. A decision was taken to protect 450 hectares of land and a contribution of Rs 3 per home was collected.
Punishments were given for cutting trees and those who took steps for protection were awarded. It was decided that nobody from the village or outside the village would be allowed to enter the forest with a bullock cart for any reason. Two most elderly persons would work as a watchmen and report to FPC. 50 acres of the forest land was set aside for grazing. During winter, villagers were allowed to use dry wood for fuel requirements.
The forest cover started becoming dense and by 1998, the forest department awarded the village with Rs 1 lakh for the initiative. The move was closely guided by Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. Dr Anand Pathak and Ravi Sahare, working at the hospital run by the NGO in the nearby village dedicated their leisure time for Baripada’s development.
Another NGO, Janaseva Foundation helped in the cultivation of rice, wheat, potato, vegetables and other cash crops. The foundation received a grant from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for three years. The work was rewarded by IFAD at Bangkok on July 23, 2003. The village community won the award in a competition on “Local Knowledge and Innovation of the Rural Poor” in the Asian region. The forest conservation drive fostered the ‘we’ spirit among villagers.
Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Janaseva Foundation helped villagers in undertaking community-based development activities like building improvised toilets, setting up kitchen gardens that used recycled water etc. The forest department legitimized the informal village protection group under its Joint Forest Management Scheme.
The work that began with the forest protection has now grown in various aspects. Self-help groups were constituted. Night schools for educating adults were started. Primary school was reopened. Festivals are celebrated together with brotherhood and mass marriages are organized to save money. The de-addiction drive was also initiated. Poor families that used to have their living by preparing and selling alcohol are now shifted to fishing, and as a result, the alcohol production has been completely stopped. Men in Baripada are now afraid of coming home drunk! Every year, kabaddi competitions are organized in which about 20 teams from the adjoining villages participate. Thus the focus is on the all round development of the region. Villagers have now undertaken the cultivation of common forest nursery as a part of joint watershed development activities. Pawar now vows to create a cadre of 200 youths from the community who can become future custodians of conservation efforts. 

Contact
1) Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Maharashtra
15, Krishinagar
College Road,
Nasik, 42 20 05
(Maharashtra, India)
Phone no: 0253-2577491, 2582429 

2) Chetram Devchand Pawar
Baripada,
Post: Shendwad
Tehsil: Sakri, District: Dhule
(Maharashtra, India)
Phone no: 02561-202219
Mobile no: 09823642713

How to reach
By air: For reaching Dhule, the nearest airport is Aurangabad, 133 km away. Nasik airport is 148 km away whereas Mumbai airport is at 306 km distance.
By rail: Chalisgaon railway station in located on Central Railway’s Mumbai-Howrah route. From Chalisgaon, Dhule is 54 km away by road.
By road: National Highway No 6, 3 and 211 pass through Dhule. From Dhule, you can go to Baripada through Sakri. Dhule-Baripada distance is 55 km.

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