Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
In the Ara and Keram villages under Ormanjhi Block, located around 45 km from Jharkhand's capital Ranchi, an IFS officer has been motivating villagers to transform their lives.
Siddharth Tripathi, IFS, posted as Commissioner (MGNREGA) three years ago, has helped transform two of the most economically and socially backward villages in the state to self-reliant villages with opportunities in works varying from dairy, poultry and goat farming.
While three years ago, Tripathy had arrived in the villages to do some "experiment", the villagers were not ready. However, with his regular visits, he was able to persuade them.
"You don't need much money to develop a village. What you need is investing your time… you need to unite and organise villagers and educate the people while giving due respect to their traditional knowledge and skills," Tripathy told The New Indian Express.
One of the major challenges for the Officer and the villagers were to strengthen the Gram Sabha and shun alcoholism to help save money. In three years, the average income of the villages has gone up by over five times.
According to Gopal Bedia, Gram Pradhan of Ara village, Shramdaan (voluntary participation in development works) has played a key role in uniting the Gram Sabha. Till date, the villages have done 'shramdaan' worth over Rs 32 lakh, he added.
"Tripathi sir told us to also organise 'Van Raksha Bandhan' (tying a sacred thread to trees, vowing to protect them). He motivated us to shun tobacco and alcohol and persuaded the villagers to put their money to better use," said Bedia.
Through 'Loose Boulder Structure' (LBS), an indigenous method to conserve water, the villagers arranged boulders in a pattern to harness the flow of water from the mountains, allowing it to pass through the boulders towards the agricultural fields.
"This required 'shramdaan' of 180 villagers' non-stop for 75 days during which 700 LBS check-dams worth Rs 1.75 crore were built," said Rameshwar Bedia, Gram Pradhan of Keram village.
The check-dams helped stop soil erosion and facilitated recharging the water-table in the agricultural fields.
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