Success Story of MNREGA : Khatra,Bankura,West Bengal

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My recent visit to Khatra Subdivision  is a windfall  to my experience.  The panoramic views of Mukutmanipur and surroung hills .hillocks and dam has  undeniably  smoothened my mind. However I got much more than expectation while visiting success  of MNREGAs here. On other days whenever I roamed Jungle Mahal  I had been skeptic as well as pessimistic about MNREGA.  I saw scattered ,unplanned and unproductive works done with the support of this mega project.  Community as a whole harvested little from it. Sporadic ventures failed to make it sustainable and productive.  Multiple positive buds from MNREGA did not come out.  Seldom people felt it their project. This very impression   pained me  every time. However, after visiting  orchard rearing under the umbrella MNREGA in Khatra sub-division changed my mind set. Now I am hopeful with the inherent power of the project  on seeing some of those brilliant works.

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Basipur village- the Holy Pir’s abode

At the crossing of Durgapur High way & Magra-Gurap road we halted and were searching for tea stalls. There are a few tea-stalls always crowded by passersby. I took comfort on sitting over chaip…

Source: Basipur village- the Holy Pir’s abode

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Basipur village- the Holy Pir’s abode

IMG_4747At the crossing of Durgapur High way & Magra-Gurap road we halted and were searching for tea stalls. There are a few tea-stalls always crowded by passersby. I took comfort on sitting over chaipai and ordered for tea.. In the meanwhile I saw huge toy-like structures flattened on the road margin. These toys were of different colours, designs and shapes. I was curious enough and asked someone:
– “Is there any fair nearby?”
– “no.. these are not for fairs. They are made for offerings to the Pirbaba of Basipur”
– “ Basipur? Where is it?”
The person pointed to a village,it is about half kms. Walk from where we are.
My curiosity moved further. I asked again” why do they offer?”
– “ Basipur is endowed with the blessings of Pirbaba. People from all over come here for cure of their broken bones. There are now 15-16 progenies who are doing this.”
– -How?
– They are experts. They set the fractured bones and bind the spot with some wild plants. It acts magically.
I was surprised. I looked at a mid-aged person who was purchasing the offerings.
-“ Hello.. what happened to you?’
– my forearm was broken. I came to Basipur and by the grace of Pir I am cured.
Then i found a woman whom I raied the same question.She replied
“ I had fractured at the toe. I was hospitalized. Anyway I could not recovered from the pain. Finally I came at Basipur and now I am fit. I will my respect to the Pir today.”

Thereafter I got many stories of Basipur. I was glazing towards the road where people were moving towards Basipur. I am fixed with faiths and science.

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Murlu village – A hub of tiles-making

Saltora is one of the border blocks of Bankura bounded by ups & hills, forests and red-lateritic soil. This block represents almost a dry prone area inhabited by resource poor community. The beautiful Biharinath or the heritage village Tiluri fall under this block. The journey to Raghunathpur through Saltora is pleasant, charming and scenic.
A small village ,Murlu along with the main road is awesome. Every house is a factory. Everyone is engaged in creation of roof-tiles . kuccha- moulded tiles in front of houses would give you artistic taste . These are of different designs, different shapes & of uses. All are done with minimum resources using inherited technology. Recently some touches of modernization have been tried but traditional tile-making is dominant. Tile-making is a household industry. Family members normally do the complete job. In case of necessity or huge order hired labours are drawn.
Tile-making is the livelihood of the villagers. It is also the main activity surrounding Saltora. The process of manufacturing is natural and the product is natural . Around six hundred families are directly dependent on this activity.
I was talking with Sambunath Kumbhakar –a resident of Murlu. According to him there is huge demand of tiles. Murlu tiles go to Jharkhand and Bihar states. Murlu has its own reputation. Its brand-name possesses wide market.
However, he pointed out the newly expanding stone-making business in the block. Crashers will eventually crash the inherited traditional practices of tile-making.

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Akhan Yatra in Ajodhya Hills

IMG_6609Today is the first day of Magha. This day has much significance in rural community in Purulia district, particularly in Chotanagpur plateau. People here call it the day of Akhan Yatra. It is the first day of the year. It is the most auspicious day of the year.
Day before Akhan Yatra community have already celebrated Makar dipping in the sacred rivers, rivulets , ponds or tanks. Thereby, they have cleansed their body and mind. Now ready for coming days with hope . Akhan Yatra is the beginning of prosperous days do they believe. Traditionally they start a happy journey praying to the Almighty for colourful and cheerful days.
Bishnu Charan of Kalimati left his bed in the very morning. He went to the farm-yard adjacent to home. With his spade he would now make ups-& downs of the Gobar-kur( where cowdung are stored). He will transfer the materials from right-side to left-side. They have strong believe that Bura-baba will sour blessings upon the family when they reshuffle cow-dung on Akhan-day. On returning from court-yard, Bishnu will be welcomed by his family members. In compliment, his feet will by washed – turmeric-water will be sprang upon his feet. Thus the first operation of agricultural operation starts in his family. This is the usual practice in every households of Kalimati,Baghmundi.
Agriculture based rituals are firmly interwoven in the lifestyle of Kurmis of Manbhum. Bishnu along with his family members would thereafter move to the farm. They will celebrate the Bura-baba there staying upon the large stone beside one of the plots. Bura-baba is offered with Sinni and ganja. They believe once bura-baba is pleased he would return good harvest.
Joydev Mahata & others starts Akhan Yatra in similar way. Local customs differ from one area to another. In Jhalda region, the cow-boy locally called Bagal goes to the field with plow, bulls & ropes. The boy will make three rounds in the field. The first ploughing is being made on the Akhan day. The bulls are given special diets. They are cleaned today. Sooner the cow-boy returns from the field, house-hold members will pour turmeric mixed oil in his ears. The boy will be offered with Dai(curd) & chira.
Raghunath Dhan of Baghmundi waits for the Akhan Day. Dhan has been caring the pair of pigeons for the last three months. He would reach to the Matha-buru hills afternoon. Many others from the locality visit the place today. They will let free pigeons for peace & eternity. They all enjoy Matha-buru parab equally. They feel ecstasy while flagging red-salu at the top of the hill with vows. Mud made idols are also offered in the name of the deity.
Akhan Yatra is related with fairs at different pockets of Ajodhya Hills. Sati-ghat mela is famous one. Tusus are brought there. Melodious songs, majestic Pata-nach dance. sports, hen-fight( murgi-lari) gives a colourful day. Akhan Yatra is the day of happiness.
The day is remembered for pitha-festival. There is a proverb: Auri-Bauri-Makar: Pitha is consumed three days starting from Bauri-the day before Makar. Pithas are offered in the name of ancestors. On Akhan day rice-dust (chal-guri) is offered to five generations.
Akhan day is the day of remembrance of past, culture and wisdom.
I wish Suva Akhan Yatra to all .

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Tamarind- A Potential Crop for Paschimanchal

Seeing even hearing the name everyone becomes crazy- it is none but mouth-watering tamarind. In Bengali it is called ‘tentul’, and in Andhra they call as immli. It is wildly as well as informally grown everywhere. Tamarind is an evergreen spice tree having enormous in-built capacity to withstand adversities. This plant is a neglected one and has been as an orphan crop in West Bengal. Its tremendous potentiality in rough terrain has not been explored.
During last month I had been travelling through some parts of Paschimanchal. I saw the drought, parched lands, withered paddy and paucity of water wherever I moved. I was passing through a tribal village. Suddenly , I was struck to see a group of tribal women under a tamarind tree with huge green leaves and tender fruits of tamarind. I came to them and asked” what will you do with these leaves?”
-“ we will feed our goats and sheep”-replied one of them. Another one said” we also make cuisines with green leaves and soft-fruits. These are fine dish to us.”
I asked” do you have special dish”?
-yea- fish curry with leaves or fruits is tasteful and our favourite dish. See this time we have no plenty of vegetables.. tamarind is our boon in off-season. We make Chatny, pickles with tamarind.”
-“ Is there utility of this tree”?
“ It is God gifted tree. We get fuels, timbers. Our Dhekhi is made of tamarind-wood. It is so hardy.”
“ Its seed are crushed and fed to animals. Sometimes we sell them.”
“ Do you sell tamarind-fruit. “?
“yea. Paikars come and we sell to them”?
-“ What price do you get?”
-“ Rs. 7-8 per kg.”
I was astounded. Recently I purchased tamarind-paste which is Rs.80.00/kg. in the market. I could remember a news about three years back when turmeric price rose in the market, it touched Rs.100 per kilo and the AP Government began to purchase and sell tamarind through c-operatives to rescue the consumers as well as farmers selling at low price. Market information gap prevents tamarind-growers or collectors from the real price paid by consumers. Tamarind has large demand in our country. It has also huge demand in abroad. During 2013-14 16,000 tonnes of tamarind were exported valuing more than 94 crores. Total export value of tamarind was as high as Rs.123 crores during 2011-12.
Tamarind is well suited in drought prone areas. It can be integrated with farm-forestry program. At present there are quick growing varieties such as PKM_1, GKKV,Tumkur which comes to fruit bearing stage within 6-7 years. Those varieties have high yield potential. From a single tree one can harvest 2.50 Qtls of raw tamarind. The tree will yield for many years. One can have 70 kg. fine-tamarind paste from each plant. Moreover, turmeric, ginger or other tuber crops could be taken during the gestation period.
The crop requires no irrigation and can withstand temperature upto 46 degree is ideally suitable for Paschimanchal. Plantation of this plant will mitigate drought to an extent if done systematically.

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Naru Bauri & his innovative farming

Source: Naru Bauri & his innovative farming

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