As part of our water conservation work, we organized a programme to build a check dam on March 9 near Bhagpur. Amit Awasthi and Sampath led a team consisting of 12 members of Aarti and Sithala women’s self-help groups (SHG) and 4 youths from the village. The dam was built on a stream around 1.5 km in the jungle from the village. The resultant water body benefits both domestic and wild animals. Livestock from the village use the water body in the day while wild animals use it at night. Nilgai, gaur, spotted deer, tiger and sambhar are regularly spotted in the area.
|Site near Bhagpur|
|Volunteers at work|
During the month, Amit also organized 2 awareness programmes to talk to villagers about the benefits of bio-gas. While the Forest Department had installed several bio-gas units in villages a few years ago, many have fallen into disrepair. Amit explained the benefits of restarting the units, many of which need only minor repairs. Use of bio-gas will reduce pressure from villagers on forests for firewood. The first programme was held on March 5 at Bhagpur and two similar programmes were organized during the month – at Dhamangaon on March 7 and on March 11 at Batwar.
|Batwar - bio-gas tank being cleaned at Ramprasad Aarmo's place|
|The stove being fired up|
On March 8 our team organized an anti-plastic programme at Sautiya. Amit and Sampath spoke to the students of the village school about the harmful impact of plastic/polythene on the environment and motivated them to remove such litter from the village. The students went around the village, collecting plastic and polythene litter/waste, which were then buried in a pit on the outskirts of the village. A similar programme was organized at Patpara on March 10.
|Patpara - Sampath and the children with the plastic trash collected|
During the month, our team organized programmes to dig/create 4 new waterholes in the jungle. All of these were located inside the jungle in the buffer zone, between 3 km and 5 km from the nearest village.
|Volunteers dig a waterhole in the jungle under supervision by|
a forest guard
Holi is a major Hindu festival and is normally celebrated by people splashing water and colours on each other. Normally, a lot of water is wasted and chemicals in the colours contaminate the soil and water bodies. Further, bonfires are lit and branches and trees are cut for firewood. In our programmes, we explained the harm that is caused to the environment by such activities and encouraged people to celebrate the festival in a more eco-friendly manner. Instead of using firewood, villagers are advised to burn rubbish and waste materials or cow dung. We organized 2 programmes on March 16 at Kutwahi and Chapri.
|Chapri - a classroom talk by Sampa|
|Sautiya - nature trail|
Amit and Sampath led children of Dhamangaon and Samaiya on nature trails on March 9 and March 15 respectively. On the trails, they helped children identify various species of plants and animals and explained the importance of preserving our environment.
|Ram Kumar Uikey of Kutwahi, at Kanha Kishkinda Resort, Mocha|
We have been encouraging villagers to take to vegetable farming on a commercial scale to help them generate additional income and reduce their dependence on forests for income. Over the past 3 years, we have distributed seeds and helped 15 farmers set up vegetable patches. They are earning 200 to 500 rupees a week in additional income through this effort.
|Ratiram Dhurve of Chapri sets out his produce at the weekly market|
|Batwar: Amit and Forest Guard Shyamlal Dhurve conduct an|
awareness programme about forest fires and prevention