Sunday, 13 October 2013

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

My visit to Nandia Kallan Village, 60 kms. from Jodhpur

After many years, my thoughts and dreams took me to search for a life inside the villages where people are simple in every aspect of life.

This Friday, October 4, 2013 I boarded Mandor Express with one of my friend for Jodhpur. It was a feeling of my dreams becoming true, my excitement to meet new and unknown people, my desire to work for a better change in the village life of people.

Next day morning, we reached Jodhpur at 8 a.m. and from there took an auto to Rai Ka Baag, Bus Stand. Two tickets for Rs.60/- to Bawri, a small place, one hour journey to connect us with another mini bus to the village for Rs.40/- and 45 minutes journey. 

And here we were at the village, welcomed by Jaswant Singh and later Ganesh Soni. We kept our bags, had some water and tea and direct to the tube-well in the farms to have a bath. A great experience in the farm with cows and goats around.

Later in the day we met village elders who were more than happy to meet us. Finally the Lunch, as it was the first Navratri day, the villagers were on fast so we were alone to have lunch in a traditional style-sitting on the floor with small floor-table to keep our thalis(Plate). 

We had a rest of one hour and went to see the Gau-shala(Cow shelter home). We met some people and the care-taker Rajinder Singh ji who was very happy and liked our ideas to rejuvenate the Gau-shala.

In the evening there was a meeting with the village Nav-Yuvak Mandal(Youth Forum) which comprised of school students to young working people. There was discussion on how to regulate our daily life, from studies to career and ways of upgrading the village but keeping the rural essence in-tact. 

The discussion happened on making the village green, having solar energy to organic farming. Jaswant ji was quite impressed and wants to convert his tube-wells to solar operated system.

Also saw a 15 minutes of Ram-Leela stage show at night.

It was a great sleep at Jaswant ji's home before that simple dinner at Gaja Puri's place and not to forget the sweet halwa(Indian sweet dish made of semolina called sooji also).

Next day early morning, getting fresh and having Bajre ki roti with black chana and tadka curd(Millet chapati with black grams and dash of spices in the curd).

A meeting was already planned with Gau-shala governing body of 21 people which was quite fruitful. There was whole lot of discussion from cows to students library, water, health and hygiene to sustainable rural life with planting saplings at the time of next rains.

Later in the day we went to the temple on the hills-half way by Bolero camper with Jaswant ji on the wheel and half of the journey walking steep height with my lungs pumping at a fast pace.

It was Saturday, October 6, 2013, 3 p.m. and our mini bus was there and from Bawri by Bolero with Mr.Kewal Chand Soni, the village elder person to Jodhpur.

We had two hour to spend in the market while purchasing some things and having Lassi and Rabri at Mishri Lal sweets.

It was back to Delhi journey now, once again by Indian Railways-Mandor Express at 7.45 p.m. with next plans in our minds.

Surely, awesome trip with direct experience and plans to take it forward for a better change !!!

This trip-thanks to Suresh ji who was my companion on the trip and Suresh ji's friend Bheekh Puri ji who is from this village.        

Friday, 15 March 2013

The making of a Green Village

The making of a Green Village

The making of a Green Village

Hatnur, located in the Sangli district of Maharashtra, having a population of about 5000, has been nurtured with the concept of sustainable development.
“The principles of conservation, sustainability and community empowerment are ingrained in aspect of the eco-village. With the help of the local self-government and the villagers, we have undertaken pioneering measures to create a sustainable ecosystem by working with the community,” says Subhash Patil.
Since Hatnur is a drought prone area, it receives scanty rainfall and water table was very low. “The watershed development programmes by Agriculture department, KT (Kolhapur Type) WEIR by Water Conservation Department, storage ponds facility by the agriculture department of the Government of Maharashtra has helped in raising the water table levels of Hatnur village. We have highest number of storage ponds too. Earlier, the water supply for drinking and cultivation used to last until February end but now we water until April-end. The village has community tanks with a capacity of 90,000lt and 70,000lt which supplies water to over 820 homes.”
Wastewater treatment
In an attempt to conserve water, the wastewater flowing through the closed drains down the slopes is treated at the wastewater treatment plant, where it goes through processes like segregation of suspended solids and treated with natural chemicals (bacteria/enzymes). The clean water then passes through the porous media to various ponds. This water is used for plantation through drip-irrigation or sometimes taken in tankers to water the plants. Around 10,000lt is treated daily. The overflow water of the water tank is again stored in a small tank and used for plantation and for cattle.
A lot of research has gone in the installation of the treatments plants. “I took the help of Shiv-Sadan Consultants, Executive Engineer Ramdas Tambe of Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and local company VAC technologies in Sangli for setting up the plant. The Gram Panchayat is currently operating two such plants,” says Subhash Patil, a civil engineer and a post graduate in management.
Solid Waste Management
The Hatnur Gram Panchayat has developed a system of ghanta-ghadi under which the bio-degradable and non-degradable wastes from the individual houses are collected in two shifts. This waste is then mixed with cow/buffalo dung and transferred to the vermi-composting pit for further processing. Hatnur village has around six vermi-compost pits. Subhash says, “The manure produced from the pit is sold to farmers for `4500 per tonne. The pit has a capacity to produce five tonnes of manure every 45 days. The revenue generated adds up to the Gram Panchayat fund.
“We have also provided bamboo dustbins to every house. These dustbins are eco-friendly, and in a way we also popularize the traditional dying art and generate employment for the village artisans.”
Energy Management
The village has renewable energy too – both solar and wind. The gram panchayat office, the anganwadis and the computer lab in primary schools run on solar energy. There are around 25 streetlamps that run on windmill (1Kw capacity) hybrid energy. Provision for four induction lamps has also been made for important functions in the village.
The gram panchayat has put in `2 lakhs from its fund and `1 lakh subsidy from the central government for installing the wind energy. Four induction lamps, which give an output of 400watt with input of 100watt have been installed in public spaces.
Sanitation & Health
A lot of emphasis is given to education, sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene. The village has received 17 awards in different categories that include Sant Gadge Maharaj Gram Swachtha Award, Nirmal Gram Puraskar and other State and national awards. “Every house has been provided with a pucca toilet. The village is also equipped with public toilets both for men and women.”
“The Primary Health Centre is well-equipped and checked for hygiene levels by a designated health officer. The schools already have water filtration systems and we are in the process of constructing RO system for the entire village.
Green Initiative
In an attempt to turn the place green, three years back, the villagers have planted around 5000 saplings. Today, in all there are around 30,000 trees banyan, tamarind, lime, drumstick, neem, ficus, all types of palms, fruit bearing trees such as jambul (Rose apple/Java plum) and flowering trees such as gulmohar (Flame tree)… There are also exotic plants like Orchids, Kanchan (Geranium tree) and Bougainvillea too. These trees have a lucrative business potential in the future and help sustain the village’s green initiatives.
Besides enhancing the scenic beauty and commercial value of the village, every stone laid to make this village has a story to narrate. Structures made of natural stones, the small bridges, the tall trees… are breathtaking.
“Looking back on all the hard work put in, this would not have been possible without people’s participation,” says Subhash. Hatnur has today achieved its status of ‘Green and clean village’.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Himalayan resort made of dry stacking of stone & wood without cement

Sitting in the foothills of the Western Himalayas, Himachal Pradesh is place where natural beauty and architectural elegance sit together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Himachal is a diverse place in its own right—the culture, dialect and architectural style changes as often as the geography it is endowed with. The regions, that the state is divided into, have their own unique culture and architecture. People going on a holiday to Himachal for a week or so are making a mistake. It may take a full year to fully explore and understand this versatile place. Kullu, Spiti, Lahaul, Kangra, Shimla, Kinnaur, Chamba and Mandi are the major cultural bases of Himachal. They have their own sweet traditions and dialects.
Peace of Mind
When in Himachal do not forget to visit “the Himalayan Village Resort” in the Parvati Valley near Kasol (in the Kullu district). Why? Because it is the perfect blend of all the aforementioned cultures, so much so that the place even has mixed architectural styles. If you want a taste of Himachal as an appetizer then Kasol is the place to be.
The Himalayan Village Resort is a place which you really have to see to believe. A perfect marriage between aesthetics and state of the art architecture, tradition and modern day facilities have resulted in the making of this small piece of paradise. This is a place where man has learnt to live in perfect harmony with Mother Nature—a place where man does not abuse the gifts he is blessed with, but improvises on what he already has. You will find complete peace of mind while watching dawn breaking through the Deodar trees.
Modern facilities
The Himalayan Village Resort is located near the Malana village (fun fact: it is the oldest democracy in the world!). The resort is also just a couple of clicks away from Manikaran, a place famous for its hot water springs. The valley has some excellent sights—it is rich in flora and fauna, stately flower valleys and numerous waterfalls (with water so clear you can see the riverbed). The resort has a dense pine (Deodar) forest at its top and the majestic Parvati River flowing at its bottom. The black mountains surrounding the resort stand guard like silent sentinels which locals visualize as “Shiv Lingas” of various shapes and sizes. It is a perfect place for nature and architecture lovers alike.
Glimpse of the traditional
The sheer brilliance of the resort lies in the architecture around the place. It’s simply a feast for the eyes. If you are an architect you will forget everything else around you and only look at the cottages. The effect is same on green-activists as well! The cottages in and around the Himalayan Village Resort are made in the ancient Kathkunia style. The people have stayed true to the tradition and built the cottages by just stacking stone unto a wooden framework—no cement or mortar is used! The inside walls are plastered with mud and the inner framework is completed with high quality deodar wood serving as the beams and other wood work. The furniture is crafted from teak and tussle handmade silk curtains hang from the windows, giving the place an aura of harmony between class and aesthetics. The architecture is flawless. It looks good and the inner craftsmanship of the cottages conserves heat.
From Ecofriend