Bhil communities’ success story: Reviving the custom known as “halma” to conserve water – Madhya Pradesh

Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times, Indore, 13-3-16

Halma has united tribes people to conserve environment and water

Until now, tribes people have planted more than 11,000 trees in 110 villages, repaired more than 250 hand pumps and dug more than three dozen big ponds in the region, under the drive.

More than 10,000 Bhil tribes people from more than 300 villages will gather at Hathipawa hill, about 1.5 km from district headquarters on March 14 and 15 to take a pledge for the cause. […]

The drive started in 2005, when a group of Bhil social activists decided to take up the cause, said Harsh Chauhan, one of five people who started the drive under a banner called Shivganga Abhiyan.

“Youngster told us that the biggest problem was decreasing forest cover and lack of water in their villages and since then we have started the drive,” he said.

Halma is an ancient tradition of the Bhils where tribes people gather at a place to discuss problems face by the community.

Chauhan said the drive has been going on in more than 800 villages in the two districts and more than 20,000 Bhils have planted trees to conserve environment and water.

“We were earlier suffering from lack of water but now due to the drive we have taken up many initiatives to increase the water level in the village,” said Surti Bai, who tours the district to spread the message of halma.

Source: Bhil tribes revive old tradition to conserve forest and water | indore | Hindustan Times
Address: http://www.hindustantimes.com/indore/bhil-tribes-revive-old-tradition-to-conserve-forest-and-water/story-hAI84PTrx0MNF6bFXnuxaJ.html
Date Visited: Sat Jan 07 2017 12:55:20 GMT+0100 (CET)

Book review “In defence of livelihood” by AMIYA KUMAR BAGCHI in Frontline, Volume 19 – Issue 10, May 11-24, 2002 (India’s National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU)
Landscapes and Lives: Environmental Dispatches on Rural India by Mukul Sharma; New Delhi: Oxford University Press; pages xi+234, Rs.475.

[…] GRASSROOTS movements of people are not merely reactive and kindled only at points of resistance against oppression by other humans. They can also build new institutions, construct new structures, and find new ways of living to escape poverty and find some of the freedom that is every woman’s birthright. While big dams almost invariably lead to displacement, Indians have used small dams or bunds all over the country to store rainwater or the run-off from hill slopes, and used them for irrigation, afforestation and soil conservation. On October 28, 1988, a small dam and ponds for holding rainwater were constructed in the village of Sato in Bihar’s Gumla district which lies about 123 kilometres north-west of Ranchi. The assured supply of water and security against soil erosion and landslips has made the Urao [Oraon] community of Sato now regard October 28 as their real independence day.

In Madhya Pradesh, the inhabitants of Gainda and neighbouring villages, in the district of Jhabua, have used halma, a traditional institution for collective labour, to construct numerous civil works that cater to the needs of villagers, with financial support from the government under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) scheme. In Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra, villagers under the charismatic leadership of Anna Hazare have transformed their habitat into a green, prosperous oasis in the middle of a dry region. Not only have they regenerated the forest or grass cover by means of a ban on the felling of trees followed by extensive replanting; with higher productivity, they have adopted a series of innovations which have in turn raised their earning power and improved their quality of life. “They have grafted the drip irrigation system, solar panels and gobar gas plants” (p. 128). […]

Source: In defence of livelihood
Address: http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1910/19100740.htm
Date Visited: Sun Jan 15 2017 10:13:03 GMT+0100 (CET)

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