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JAIPUR, April 13, 2013
For every girl child born, they plant 111 trees
MAHIM PRATAP SINGH
Rajasthan village shows the way for uplift of women
In an atmosphere where every morning newspapers greet us with stories of girls being tormented, raped, killed or treated like a doormat in one way or the other, trust India's “village republics” to bring in some good news from time to time. A village in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district quietly practises its own brand of eco-feminism, achieving spectacular results.
For the last several years, the Piplantri village panchayat has been saving girl children and simultaneously increasing the green cover too. People plant 111 trees every time a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as girls grow up. Over the past six years, over a quarter million trees have been planted.
On an average, 60 girls are born here every year, according to the former sarpanch, Shyam Sundar Paliwal. He was instrumental in starting this initiative in memory of his daughter Kiran, who died a few years ago. In about half of these cases, the parents are reluctant to accept the girl child, he says. Such families are identified by a committee.
A sum of Rs. 21,000 is collected from the residents and Rs. 10,000 from a girl's father. The total amount is put in a fixed deposit account opened in the girl’s name with a maturity period of 20 years.
But here's the best part.
“We make every girl’s parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age, send her to school regularly and take care of the trees planted in her name,” says Mr. Paliwal.
People also plant 11 trees when someone dies. But this village of 8000 did not just stop at planting trees and greening their commons. To prevent termite attack, the residents planted over two-and-a-half million aloe vera plants around the trees.
Now they are a source of livelihood for several residents. “Now, residents make and market aloe vera products,” Mr. Paliwal says.
The panchayat has a studio-recorded anthem and its own website (www.piplantri.com).
It has banned alcohol, open grazing of animals and cutting of trees.