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Environment Management

Case Studies in

Sustainable Development

Village & Community involvement

India is a land of villages and no development is possible without the village and community’s involvement. In the olden days, the village grazing lands, forests, streams and ponds were common property and villagers enjoyed the benefits of these natural resources. They also played an important role in their mgmt.

The British nationalised these resources and brought them under the control of Govt. agencies (eg. Social forestry). This alienated the villagers and without their support the survival rate of the trees would be poor. Same is true of village ponds and streams, which can be taken care of by villagers alone.

Ecologically vital village resources cannot be maintained by the bureaucracy but by village community alone, since it is they who have a stake involved in their maintenance and welfare.

An excellent example of ecosystem regeneration may be seen in the case of the “PROJECT ARAVALLI” instituted in the state of Haryana in the 1990’s (N. K. Uberoi, 2 nd Ed., pp. 32-


Case Study : Project Aravalli

BACKGROUND: “Aravalli” literally means “wall of stones or rocks”. Starting from Gujarat and traversing through Rajasthan, it extends to Haryana and the border of Delhi. The width of the Aravalli hill system varies from 10–100 kms and its height between 300-900 metres. The Aravalli hill system has always played an important role in shaping the ecology and environment of the surrounding region and serves as an important watershed for the area and rivers like the Chambal, Banas and Luni.

DEFORESTATION: Till about 50 years ago, the Aravalli and adjoining areas were thickly forested and home to a variety of animals and birds. Subsequently, large-scale felling of trees (mainly for charcoal, timber and firewood) as also the sudden increase in population and livestock led to significant loss of forest cover.

Large areas of forests were cleared for agriculture, and grazing pressures did not allow the remaining forests to survive and regenerate. This, in turn, led to water scarcity, falling water table, soil erosion and floods and overall degradation of the environment in the Aravalli region.

By the 1980s, it became evident that the Aravalli ecosystem was degrading fast. Life became difficult for the people and the worst affected were women. Traditionally, in this area, it had been their responsibility to procure fuelwood, fodder, water, etc. for the family. Women had to toil hard to meet these daily requirements.

Project Aravalli (contd.)

THE PROJECT: In Haryana, most of the land in the Aravalli region belonged to the community as a result of certain legislation in the 1930s, subse-quently amended in 1972. Therefore, in 1990, a project was launched in five districts of Haryana to restore/regenerate the ecosystem, and a Project Authority was constituted.

Village women were encouraged to start nurseries to raise saplings/seedlings needed for reforestation, which augmented their income. The European Union offered 82% finance, while the rest was borne by the Haryana govt.

VILLAGE FOREST COMMITTEES (VFCs): of 9-13 members were constituted, with the Sarpanch as chairman and a Forest Dept. official as member-secretary. It was mandatory to have at least 3 local women and represen-tatives of SC/STs on each VFC, who were responsible for drawing up plans for the project.


About 10.5 million seedlings were raised by 207 Mahila nurseries” for which over Rs. 55 lakhs were paid by the project.

To encourage savings, women were helped to open accounts in banks and post offices; since 1993, about 3400 such accounts have been opened.

VFCs were paid cash incentives to take care of the project areas and to sustain the interest of the villagers; so far Rs. 41 lakhs have been disbursed to 184 VFCs by way of incentives.

Project Aravalli (contd.)

STALL FEEDING OF LIVESTOCK: With plantations of saplings (for reforestation) on the community lands, traditional grazing could not be allowed or otherwise the saplings would not survive. Therefore, it was decided that:

Instead of open grazing, stall feeding of livestock would be followed; Instead of keeping smaller animals like goats and sheep, farmers would switch to larger animals like buffaloes;

To stall-feed the livestock, large quantities of fodder would be required. Hence different types of grasses and legumes were sown in the open areas between saplings in the plantation areas. Women could now collect fodder from their own community lands instead of having to trudge for miles.

Initially, grass seeds were procured from the market; later villagers were encouraged to harvest grass seeds from community lands for purchase by the project authorities. Within two years, the fodder availability increased substantially and the villagers were encouraged to raise the size of their livestock population.

FINAL OUTCOME: By the time the project was terminated in 1998-99, the Aravalli region had regained its lost ecosystem and glory. For example, about 34,600 hectares of land has been rehabilitated and supply of fuel, fodder, etc. has soared. Women have benefited immensely in the form of incentive money, price of grass seeds, increased yield of milk and other livestock products and, above all else, less day-to-day hardships.

Maharashtra : Hivare Bazaar


Maharashtra : Hivare Bazaar A VILLAGE WITH 54 MILLIONAIRES By Neha Sakhuja , ‘Down To Earth’

By Neha Sakhuja, ‘Down To Earth’, January 31, 2008 issue, Pub: Society for Environmental Communications, New Delhi

Hivare Bazar, a village in Maharashtra’s drought-

prone Ahmednagar district, was sliding into an

abyss after degrading its environment. But in less

than a decade it turned itself around: into one of

the most prosperous and model villages in the


Through intelligent use of funds from government

schemes, it regenerated its natural resources –

forests, watershed and soil – led by a strong Gram

sabha (village council) and a determined village


With just 400 mm of annual rainfall, drought was

chronic and acute. The village faced an acute

water crisis, its traditional water storage systems

were in ruins. Green hills, once home to mogra

In 1992, the district was brought flowers under and the fruit Joint trees, Forest stood Mgmt denuded program. and With

EGS funds and labour donations, overgrazing the panchayat had made built grass 40,000 scarce. contour People trenches were

around the hills to arrest runoff, forced conserve to migrate rainwater to cities and in recharge search of groundwater. work.

Surface storage systems were created and the villagers also took up plantation

and forest regeneration activities.

Dr. B. K. Mukherjee


Hivare Bazaar (contd.)

Hivare Bazaar (contd.) Dr. B. K. Mukherjee 7

Hivare Bazaar : Adarsh Gaon

In 1994, the Maharashtra government brought Hivare Bazaar under the Adarsh Gaon Yojana (AGY), which was based on five principles: a ban on liquor, cutting trees, free grazing, and family planning and contributing village labour for development work. The gram sabha was the force behind village regeneration:

it took decisions consensually and people listened.

The first work it took up was planting of trees on forest land and people were persuaded to stop grazing there. With the water conservation schemes, the little rainfall that is received is trapped and stored into the soil. The number of wells have now increased from 97 to 217 and irrigated land has more than doubled.

Grass production went up from 100 MT in 2000 to 6000 MT in 2004. With more grass available, milch livestock numbers have multiplied and milk production rose from 150 litres/day in mid-1990s to 4000 litres/day in 2007.

WATER AUDIT: Since 2002, the village measures the total availability of water every year and consensually decides on the agricultural cropping pattern to be taken up. Normally, crops like moong, bajra and gram, which require less water, are preferred. During years of surplus water, wheat and jwari are also grown.

With 400 mm of rainfall, Hivare Bazaar is self-sufficient. To control any shortfall, the gram sabha has banned borewells. Water for drinking (for humans and animals) and other daily use gets priority. 70% of the remaining water is used for irrigation. The remaining water is used to recharge groundwater.

The water audit has been very useful in ensuring sustainability of both agriculture and water available for drinking purposes for humans and livestock. Even during droughts, Hivare Bazaar is the only village that does not require Govt. tankers.