The Baripada village in Maharashtra’s Dhule district, India is a brilliant example of Chaitram Pawar’s dedicated efforts. At a time when people used to wait for the Government to change or transform their lives, the villagers of Baripada under the leadership of Chaitram Pawar, reshaped their own destiny.
At the end of the 1980s, the village faced a scarcity of firewood, food and water due to the deforestation that was prevalent on a large scale. Chaitram Pawar, an educated youth from the village, felt the need to do something about the situation in his village. A post-graduate in commerce, Mr Chaitram turned down many offers of jobs including a job in the Indian Air Force and decided to stay at Baripada and work for the upliftment of his village.
Pawar convinced the villagers that if deforestation continued, their access to dry wood, fruits and other minor forest produce will be cut off. Under his leadership, a decision was taken to protect 450 hectares of the village land by building check dams that curbed soil erosion. The result of this activity is that the villagers who had to travel nearly three kilometres to fetch drinking water in the early 1990s now supply water to five surrounding villages.
According to Mr Pawar, this development couldn't have been achieved without the support of the Baripada villagers and their will to bring development to their village. Mr Pawar showed people the importance of forest, land and water in order to attain self-sufficiency. According to him, conserving the forests increased the level of the water table; practicing good agricultural techniques helped them to improve the yield from the land; and conserving water by making percolation tanks, dams and small storage spaces further increased the availability of water. The combined effect of all the three exercises increased the productivity of the land and helped the village become self-sufficient.