(via Indian Express) Sudheendra Kulkarni talks about Hivre Bazar, a miracle in rural development that would have pleased Mahatma Gandhi, whose teachings inspired and guided the villagers in their endeavour. Here is a small village (only 257 families), which, 20 years ago, was perennially drought-prone. Half of its population of around 1,400 used to migrate to Mumbai and Pune in search of work in summer months. Nearly 90 per cent of the families were below poverty line. Alcoholism was rampant, and so were disputes and criminal activities.
The villagers successfully implemented a watershed development and afforestation programme by building continuous contour trenches along the hill near the village. This stopped soil erosion and also raised the groundwater table, enabling every farm to have irrigation and every home to have yearlong piped water. As against one unreliable crop in a year in the past, farmers now grow three, sometimes even four, crops. Hivre Bazar’s per capita income has increased from Rs 832 in 1991 to Rs 28,000 now. About 50 families have become millionaires. In the ’80s, it had only one motorbike; now it has 270 motorbikes, 25 four-wheelers and 17 tractors. The villagers have planted 35 lakh trees, produce 5,000 liters of milk daily, open defecation and urination have become history in Hivre Bazar, since every house has its own toilet, whose effluents, along with that of cattlesheds, support 112 biomass plants. These biomass plants, apart from providing basic electricity, also produce manure that is helping farmers to switch over to total organic farming. >>>