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P. R. Mishra
Sukhomajri, Haryana
Parasu Ram Mishra
Parasu Ram Mishra, the man behind the Sukhomajri experiment, passed away on March 25, 2000 in Palamau, Jharkhand. He was 75.

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 economic activity.

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.

For details:
Chakriya Vikas Foundation
AT & PO Barwadih

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Sachidanand Bharti
Ufrakhal, Paudi Garhwal located in the midst of Chamoli and Almora was known as the backward area in the region. However, as Sachidanand Bharti entered the scene, transformation set in. He started mobilising the entire village, especially the women, to work for forest conservation. Bharti and his village-based organisation Dadhutoli Lok Vikas Sansthan started receiving support as locals started understanding the need to treat and develop water, land and forest in an integrated manner to achieve sustainable results.

Bharti guided villagers to take up afforestation work. Initial failure such as dying saplings instigated him to find a solution. After a number of discussions with the villagers, it was decided to dig small pits near the newly planted saplings - so, that when it rains these pits collect enough water. The idea worked. By the year 1990-91, the village could boast of one of the thickest forests in the region. Today, this forest is covered with trees like Baas, Kaafal, Amaat, Chir, Awala among many other species.

Bharti's path has been illuminated by the guidance of Anupam Mishra and various community-based water harvesting initiatives going on in different parts of the country. With the support of the villagers, he started digging a series of 1,500 small pits (locally called Jal Tarais) in the forests of Gaadkhark. The impact was immediate and evidently inspiring. Today, a number a small nallahs (drains) have become perennial, which culminate into a big nallah known as Gaadganga.

Sachidanand Bharti is a media-shy person, who is working selflessly for the community and the nature. The works are carried without any external financial assistance. By simply mobilising what the community has to or is willing to offer. Bharti has motivated the locals to deliver the message of conservation and prosperity.

For details:

Dadhutoli Lok Vikas Sansthan
Paudi Garhwal, Uttranchal

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