State honours 27 who made a difference

Ranchi, Nov. 15: Their contributions to human existence may not have been as exalting as discovering Boson, but their modest initiatives have certainly given Jharkhand its much-needed social, economic and ecological makeover.

Meet the 27 rural game-changers who were honoured at the 13th Foundation Day celebrations at Birsa Munda Football Stadium here on Thursday for their exemplary achievements that ranged from saving forests and wildlife to starting a white revolution and spinning silken success.

Each of the enterprising men and women, hailing from every corner of the tribal heartland, received a medal and a cash bounty of Rs 11,000 in recognition of their services. The state honour was bestowed upon them by none other than Governor Syed Ahmed and chief minister Arjun Munda in the presence of a host of other dignitaries and an applauding crowd of 15,000.

On the sidelines of the statehood spectacle, Sukhlal Hembrom of rebel-hit Ghatshila's Bankati village recalled his prolonged fight to protect a patch of East Singhbhum's green cover.

"The year was 2008. The timber mafia had become very powerful in Ghatshila and the woods surrounding Bankati were in grave danger. Along with some like-minded people, I formed a forest protection committee. We kept vigil and interacted with villagers to convince them that felling trees for little cash would do them no good in the long run. Fortunately, they listened to us and the forest was saved," the 27-year-old said.

If green sentinel Hembrom rescued a dying forest, a man from Seraikela-Kharsawan contested tribal beliefs and custom to turn into a protector of wildlife.

Amit Majhi (38) of Kanderbera, the president of the Dalma eco-development committee, has successfully curbed Sendra bloodshed. "Our committee has been working for 10 years to convince people of 82 villages not to kill wild animals during the tribal hunting festival. This year, not a single animal was killed," he said.

Besides forest and environment activists, the state also honoured many with an entrepreneurial bent of mind.

Bhubaneshwar Hembrom (21) of Giridih and Yogendra Munda (37) of Seraikela-Kharsawan have walked down the rewarding silk route. A Class VII dropout, Bhubaneshwar today earns Rs 72,000 every two months, while matriculate Munda bags Rs 80,000 every six months.

"I buy two packets of seed cocoons. Each contains 18,000 and costs Rs 420. I leave the seeds on trees and get 36,000 cocoons in two months. I sell each at Rs 2," the Giridih youth revealed the formula behind his fortune.

Munda, on the other hand, prepares seed cocoons, which is equally rewarding. Both have inspired fellow villagers to take up sericulture.

Like the duo, Bhaskar Agarwal (40) of Ramgarh is milking money. "In 2006, I bought four cows and set up a dairy farm. Today, I have 40 cows that produce 350 litres. I have six employees too," he smiled.

May this smile of success be contagious.

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