Year-long efforts of residents in the Maoist-hit Gopalpur (Baghmara block) and Belmy (Topchanchi block) villages of the district have borne fruit.
Last week, they received drafts worth Rs 48,000 and 4,000, respectively, in lieu of their earnings through the sale of lac products. The drafts were given at a function to chairpersons of the forest committees of both villages by Dhanbad divisional forest officer Sanjeev Kumar.
The officer pointed out the advantages of lac cultivation projects undertaken by the forest department in 11 villages, including Domanpur, Telmachho, Amkura, Maharajganj, Leghoria, Lahbera, Rupan, Mahuadabar and Arwatand, besides Gopalpur and Belmy.
He said besides developing a natural resource-based livelihood, the project helped strengthen the village forest committees.
The forest committees, comprising 25 members including an elected chairman, are entrusted with the task of running the lac cultivation schemes. The term of a forest committee is three years.
Now, buoyed with the success of the project, the department has decided to extend it to two more villages of the district — Sarra and Dangatand, near Pirtand area of Tundi.
Elaborating on the dual benefits of the project that has ensured a permanent source of income for villagers, the DFO said the scheme undertaken in villages situated on the fringes of Naxalite-affected areas have also helped to prevent people from deviating from mainstream society and joining rebel ranks.
"Villagers engaged in lac cultivation can take advantage of many other schemes, including the NREGS, as it doesn't require year-long engagement," said Kumar.
Regarding upcoming plans, he said due to the presence of an abundant number of palash trees in the district, the department was planning to develop special orchards of ber and lac (palash).
The orchards would be known as bela orchards and would give a major boost to the ongoing lac production project. Lac is produced on palash trees.
Telegraph / 22 May 2009