A concerned villager, he mobilised his
village Kursala in Kalahandi, Orissa, to overcome its persistant
water shortage. The result is evident. The village, which used
to face a drinking water scarcity in the month of January, now
has adequate water for irrigation even in May and June.
Dawn arrived in Kursala in the early 1990s, when, appalled
with the depleting water status and growing poverty and migration,
an educated villager Komal Lochan Jani decided to take action.
He knew the groundwater levels would improve only if rainwater
is used for recharging. Jani has also heard that a good vegetative
cover (including grasses and forests) facilitates the recharge
process as this cover acts as a filtering medium. Thus, he
started by mobilising the youth to work for the conservation
of forests that were vanishing. Gradually, the people of Kursala
took up his concern and initiative, and they worked together.
Intensive plantation work (including fruit-bearing trees)
was taken up. About 50 small ponds were built and sustainable
water management practices were sacredly adopted. Kursala
has not only broken the cycle of irregular rains, drought
and migration but have recently handed over 492 acres of forest
back to the state as well.
Komal Lochan Jani / Amrinder Kishore
The Indian National Trust for the Welfare of Tribals (INTWOT)
7/C - 7/230, Rohini,
New Delhi 110 085
Tel: 27046583, 27055172
Parasu Ram Mishra
P. R. Mishra
Parasu Ram Mishra, the man behind the Sukhomajri experiment,
passed away on March 25, 2000 in Palamau, Jharkhand. He was
A leading soil conservationist at the Soil and Water Training
Institute, Chandigarh, Mishra spent most of his years converting
Sukhomajri and other villages of Palamau from drought-prone
poverty-stricken hamlets to self-sustainable units of prosperous
When Mishra embarked on the Sukhomajri project in the early
1970s, the village was riddled with ecological problems. The
land was sparsely vegetated and it could sustain only poor crops.
Soil erosion caused heavy runoff and soil loss. Even though
the region had an adequate 1,100 mm of rainfall, groundwater
levels were low.
Mishra's intervention was to change all that. Today, Sukhomajri
possesses a forest wealth estimated at Rs 90 crore.
The transformation of Sukhomajri from a barren land into a green
belt was due to a model of sustainable development called the
Chakriya Vikas Pranali (CVP) that was developed by Mishra himself.
The CVP's basic strategy is to make a one-time investment of
cash, plants and technology and to convert it into a self-sustaining
process of production and reinvestment from a common village
fund. The investment in what Mishra calls a 'multi-tiered, multi-rooted,
multi-layered' planting cycle guarantees year--round employment
for all members of the village society ("students"
in CVP terminology) and returns - in the short, medium and longer
terms - from grass and vegetables, fruit trees, and timber respectively.
A typical block of 8 or 12 ha of pooled land is divided by water-retaining
tie-ridges into smaller quadrants and literally filled with
plants, intercropped to maximise the symbiotic relationships
of nitrogen-fixing and nitrogen-hungry species. Yams and other
tubers go underground, pulses, beans, fruits, bamboo and timber
spring up from the earth, the different root systems carefully
grown together to prevent overcrowding and to maximise use of
groundwater at all levels.
Chakriya Vikas Foundation
AT & PO Barwadih
Narayan Hazary is an ardent believer of the Panchayati Raj system.
He advocates the concept of village democracy in
Kesharpur village. The list of his achievements is endless:
He started a village-level school in 1954; he set up the Despran
Madhusadan Library in 1957; he established Pragati Shishu Sangh,
a childrens organisation; and from 1972 he spearheaded
the Buddhagram Environmental Movement (BEM) to regenerate the
forests. BEM was aimed at regenerating the green cover of the
barren Binjagiri forest and Malati hills. The forest and the
hill are finally regaining their cover. Meanwhile, Hazary teaches
political science in Nagaland but remains the guiding force
behind all activities in Kesharpur village.
Ranjit Kumar Pattnaik is a household name In Angul district
of Orissa. In 1988. he went on a padyatra across 600 villages
In Angul to raise awareness about the Importance of natural
resources. Pattnaik established the Youth Association for Rural
Reconstruction. Initially aimed at fighting against pollution
of the Brahmani river by Industries. Pattnaik has also been
Instrumental In forming village organisations to save forests
and sanctuaries In the state.
Ranjit K Pattanaik
Department of Planning and Research
Youth Association for Rural reconstruction
P O Boinda