Efforts of Arranya
Quarterly we conduct day-long cycle excursions to urban forests namely Gorewada, Ambazari and Seminary Hills. These excursions are not for members-only and we encourage maximum participation from school-going children. We brief them countless benefits on carbon footprint and make them realize the importance of vegetation in a city. This we do by conducting activities like walking barefoot, hiking in the forest, listening to the sounds of nature and much more.
Compost Making This is the most effective activity anyone can do to contribute at an individual level. Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers. To promote Compost Making we have conducted 60+ workshops, reached out to 250+ celebration groups during festivals, trained 5000+ people. As yet we have collect almost 50 tons of Nirmalya during festivals, a part of which we used to make compost and the remaining we turned over to municipal corporation for proper disposal. Conducting meetings with Mayor and high level offers and policy makers of the government was also a core part of this activity.
In 2011, we were the first to introduce natural herbal colors as substitute for chemical colors to the city of Nagpur. Every Holi we promote the use of herbal colors made by self-help groups of tribal women. We also run a campaign called ‘Khelo Holi Eco-friendly,’ in several public places of Nagpur. In this campaign we spread awareness through street plays, posters and social media. We also urge people to follow 100 family= 1 Holi rule. This allows them to burn a single Holi for as many as 100 families and suggest usage of Govary(cow-dung cakes) to burn Holi instead of wood.
Arranya has carried out over 25 drives in city. Awareness drives to enroot hygiene habits amongst every citizen of the society is our prime moto. Since 10 years we have been conducting cleanliness campaigns across the city on weekends. In 2014, Indian Government launched Clean India Mission in the country and in 2015 there were 3 members of Arranya has also chosen as Swaccha Bharat Ambassadors amost 50 ambassadors across country namely Mr. Raj Madankar, Miss. Prarthana Paunikar and Mr. Akshay Deshmukh. Arranya conducts cleanliness drives under their guidance and leadership.
Plantation often has negative connotations as it is typically assumed to be a poor substitute for natural biodiversity. Arranya aims to do plantation in the manner it occurs in forest. Forest ecology has many components namely- climbers, creepers, shrubs, herbs, bushes, trees, insects, birds, wetlands and many more. Taking cue from nature Arranya conducts plantation drives in rural and urban areas and selects a patch of land rather than localities. Arranya has almost planted 3000+ saplings of 30+ species on 100+ sites with 75% success of growth rate. Further Ecological Plantation facilitates conservation of indigenous species, maintains balance in native biodiversity, urban ecosystem and green spaces. Plantation of Indigenous species have always been our top priority. Our first step in this project is conduct a survey of the flora and fauna. Thenceforth, we seek local support and community involvement which pays of in the long run. We adopt innovative techniques for guard trees from stray animals and anti-socials in the locality by upcycling and reusing bamboos, scrap cloths, ropes, etc. Since its very inception Arranya has been consistently doing plantation in rural and urban areas of Nagpur in Maharashtra.
Seed Conservation In a manner of speaking seed is the womb where a gigantic tree takes birth. In the highly globalized and overpopulated world, we are losing our flora and fauna at an unprecedented rate. In order to arrest this elimination of flora and fauna we need to take immediate conservation efforts. Our approach is targeted at saving the local flora. For the project of Seed Conservation Arranya collects seed from healthy green parks of city and nearby reserved forest areas. We have collected more than 10 lakhs seeds of 60 different types of species in past 8 years. Arranya is the pioneering organization of this activity in Nagpur. We package some seeds to distribute them in pilgrimages, some are thrown on barren lands in forests and some are used for growing saplings. Last year we prepared seed balls and sowed them in the (name of the jungles) and on barren lands.
Humans have had a profound effect on many important species of birds. Widely cited reasons are big structures, hunting, unchecked emission of green-house gases, polluting water bodies and habitat loss by the ever-expanding suburbs of metropolitan cities. Arranya coordinates with eco-sensitive people and help them set up water pots and feeding trays for birds in their homes. We also conduct training programs where we weave bird nests and place them on trees. We also conduct bird watching hikes. Lastly, we have a separate team of agile volunteers to rescue birds during the kite festival of Makar Sankranti.
Given the green cover of our planet is depleting in an unprecedented pace, we vehemently advocate afforestation. We made one of our biggest efforts of afforestation in Dava Forest of Makardhokda region near Umrer Road, 38 Km from the city of Nagpur. Dava Forest until 2007 served as a tiger corridor however, because of its coal beds it attracted corporate interests and just about to became a mine. This came to the attention of environmental NGOs and after a prolonged litigation the government took the land away from the corporate and appealed NGOs to restore the habitat of this forest. We applied the model of Save Tiger Project to restore this forest. We sought to go about doing it by fulfilling 3 major requirements- develop green cover, availability of water resources and prey. With the help of Biodiversity Management Committees formed by us we made a thorough study of the area. This involved participation of village community as well. Firstly, we secured region by fire lines in the periphery and marked with dense bamboo plantation; grew flower and fruit-bearing plants and kept some area in grassland. This attracted birds and herbivores and ensured a sustained growth in numbers of other reptiles, too. Secondly, in corporation with forest department and some other ngos we increased our strengths and scale up the work. Lastly, we constructed dams and bunds to concentrate water percolation in certain areas. This in turn raise the level of groundwater table and in result a few ponds have taken shape. After a period of 9 years we spotted a pack of wild dogs in the forest and eventually a tiger was spotted in the vicinity.
There are 16 water bodies in Nagpur out of which 13 are lakes and 3 are rivers. Needless to say, we have exploited and polluted them to the hilt. We have been constantly working to replenish 6 water bodies namely, Sakkardhara Lake, Shukrawari Lake, Sanjay Gandhi Khadan Lake, Ambazari Lake, Pohra River and Nag River. Cleaning water body takes immense effort and is possible only with the cooperation of municipal bodies/owners of the lake. For the above-mentioned 6 water bodies we have suggested a roadmap to the concerning parties to allow and assist us in thoroughly cleaning them. Our proposal is backed by insights drawn from surveys we carried out and suggests innovative and effective measures to clean the water bodies first and then keep them away from polluting again. Some of the measures we suggest are- installation of peripheral wire & rcc fencing, desilting, installation of aeration units, cleaning Water Hyacinth and removal of weed, plantation of medicinal plants in the vicinity, stopping the drainage outlets, raising public awareness and making people mindful of the water bodies. While we await approval from the major stakeholders we try to maintain the situation by conducting cleanliness drives, collecting Nirmalya during festivals and getting the water quality tested in regular time intervals.
Sustainable Agriculture India is known as an agrarian nation to the world. India’s agro trade has always been on its peak since many ages. After green revolution, chemical farming gained momentum and has been widely adopted to optimize production. Foreign companies jumped into Indian local agro market with their chemical fertilizers and synthetic seeds which has now turned into a big disaster. We have lost fertility of soil and we are growing poisonous food out of it. Arranya from past two years has taken an initiative to promote the idea of natural farming with less budget. Cow and Farm are complementary to each other so we have started practising cow-based farming without using a single drop of chemical fertilizer. We produce our own fertilizers and seeds at our farm and turn it into profitable farming with very less investment. Mix Cropping, Trap Crops, Seasonal Crops, Multilayer Crops, Agnihotra are the main nomenclatures of farming. Arranya has made available training facility to youngsters and for new farmers. We also are providing services like consulting and training on end-to-end process of natural farming. Gauseva: Lately, the significance of Indian native cow as a partner of farmer has been highlighted and has got its due importance. Cow is the be-all and end-all for our dairy industry. We suggest farmers to augment their income by capitalizing the spin-offs from domesticating a cow. They can sell its urine and make use of cow dung in their households as well.
Efforts of Arranya
Rural Development Program Under this program we seek to develop self-sustainable villages. We go about this by adopting remote tribal villages and thereby executing a host of activities in cooperation with the local people. We lay out a holistic plan after conducting multiple meetings and brainstorming sessions with local leaders of Gram Panchayat. So far, we have adopted 3 villages namely, Oti in Umred Karandala region of forest, Makardhokda in Dava Forest and Kolitmara in Pench Tiger Reserve. Three of them are not farther than 80 Kms from Nagpur. After analysing the socio-economic problems in these villages we have concluded that they face the same problems more or less. To name a few, patriarchy, lack of awareness of government schemes and initiatives for farmers and youth, scepticism for adopting technology in agriculture because of inadequate or no education etc. To address these problems a team of members visit these villages for a week and stay there carrying out many activities. We highlight the importance of women in society and how she steers a household single-handedly yet, stays unrecognized and neglected. We educate them on self- employment opportunities by telling them how multiple households can collaborate and establish cottage industry by identifying the potential in locally available resources. The other areas we focus on are public health and youth education. We organize free health check- ups, hold Yoga sessions and cleanliness drives. For youth, we conduct career counselling sessions, inform them of the government schemes in place for entrepreneurs and how they can apply for them, personality development program etc. For diversion we screen documentaries on best villages. We distribute toys and materials like footwear, first-aid boxes and other available household items of need. We also play games and organize competitions for children. With all these efforts we are able to touch lives of more than 500 families. We made this possible with the support of local community leaders. We strongly believe that we are capable of doing much more and at a greater scale.
Child Development Camps Under the banner of Bal Sanskar Vargas, we conduct multiple programs throughout the summer vacation of school-going children. Depending on the agenda of the program we set its duration which can be at most 7 days. With an aim to inculcate moral values and responsibility towards environment we organize a host of activities. To name a few– training on tree plantation, water management, household waste segregation, compost making, Seed Ball preparation, idol making, storytelling and many more. From our experience with children we have learned that great many changes can be brought in with their participation. Their simple logic and inquisitive nature prove very helpful in successfully conducting these camps.
Blood Donation It has become customary for us to organize a blood donation camp every August 15. We have been doing this from last 9 years and have collected 400+ blood bags. Because of our reach and the overwhelming response we get we have been able to collaborate with several blood banks and now we conduct camps more often than once in a year.
We try to do our bit and chip in to our best capacity when our society as a whole is hit by any disaster. Once a disaster is declared as National a team of Arranya closely monitoring the situation around it gets into action by listing out the aid materials we would collect to send to people affected. We provided essential items like medicines, food grains, masalas, instant noodles, biscuits, nutritious drinks and dry fruits. At times we also sent items like clothes, sanitary pads, waterproof bags and other daily-essential items. We have worked during the times of Kedarnath Floods (2013), Kashmir Floods(2014), Kerala Floods(2018) and Kolhapur Floods Year(2019). Our greatest effort in this aspect received special appreciation from District Magistrate of Jammu Tavi and Udhampur for sending one and a half bogey worth of aid material to the victims of Kasmir flood. We also have been distributing a 22 KG pack of essential items to the families whose livelihood is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This pack includes all the necessary food items essential to cook a full meal and family of 4 this would tide them over for a period of ….days.
Yoga, an ancient Indian practice of well-being has caught up with the world recently and it did not take long for people to realize its benefits. Ironically people have not entirely adopted it in their lifestyle in the society. To educate people on the benefits of Yoga, Pranayama and Satvik Diet we regularly conduct Yoga Camps across Nagpur. In past 10 years we have safely conducted 30 Yoga Camps in which we got to see participants from all age groups and from various walks of life. One thing common which we get to see in the participants is that they all realize the potential of Yoga bringing peace to their life and thus their strong determination to inculcate in their lifestyle.
We believe that collaboration plays a key role in result-oriented working of any organization. Seva Prakalp, as such, is a project dedicated to any kind of service to mankind. We collaborate with various service projects working for a variety of causes in Vidarbha. To name a few, we have worked with Gaushalas, water conservation projects, farm projects, programs for differently abled people, bamboo conservation centres, mobile hospitals, orphanages and many more. All in all, we have visited 72 Seva Prakalps and from these visits we could draw invaluable learning experiences and incorporate proven models in our working.
In this globalized world and age of hyper-connectivity it has become all the more important to understand local history and to preserve our values associated with it. We are unknowingly surrounded by archaeological gems and so much to explore. Why do they lie in neglect is because they don’t get the attention of media. To appreciate the value of this dissipating heritage and culture we conduct Heritage Walks where we visit lesser-known potential tourist spots like Kalyaneshwar Temple, Mahadeo Temple, Gandhisagar Lake, Rukmini Temple, Murlidhar Mandir and many more. We also listen glory of heritage from concerned royal families in open discussion. These visits help us stay grounded and inspire to stick to our values.
This we think is, one of our most important projects. In complete environmental apathy we have evolved our lifestyle adopting all possible options harmful to nature. To optimize production so as to meet the ever-increasing demand, we use all sorts of chemicals and are clearing out forests in an unprecedented scale. For convenience we prefer single-use plastic over washable cotton bags. In view of all this we strongly believe that educating people on leading an environmentally sensitive life and help them accommodate with nature-friendly practices will prove very helpful in the long run. We do this by undertaking following activities: Toxin free Lifestyle workshop compost making workshop Ecological Plantation Workshop Sustainable Farming Training Programs One Day Camps, visits and street play Group Discussions on current environmental issues Guest Lectures by – Dilip Kulkarni (Author of book “Ahead to Nature”) Poornima Kulkarni (Author of “Dainandin Paryavaran”) Kalpana Wazalwar (Notable Environmentalist) Hemant Mohril (Harit Sadhak of Jeevan Vidya) Vedprakash Mishra ( BC Roy Natinal Awardee) Dayashankar Tiwari (Standing Committee Chairman of NMC).