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
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.
Chakriya Vikas Foundation
AT & PO Barwadih
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
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
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.
Dadhutoli Lok Vikas Sansthan
Paudi Garhwal, Uttranchal