A village in Rajasthan celebrates by planting 111 trees every time a girl child is born. This was not the case till some years back. The village-in-question, Pipalantri in district Rajsamand in Rajasthan is about 70 km from Udaipur. Following its own brand of eco-feminism, it has successfully planted over a quarter million trees in the last six years.
This started with an idea by ShyamSundarPaliwal, thensarpanch of the district. His entire family has been involved in social work from women’s rights to environmental conservation. Inspired by his father, BhanwarLaljiPaliwal, he is particularly drawn to saving the girl child since losing his young 19-year old daughter during his tenure as the sarpanch.
As per the scheme active currently, 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. Besides, the girl’s parents are made to 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.
With his social activist father, wife as a member of JilaParishad, work-personal life balance has never been a problem for him. He has received much accolades for his initiative and featured in media from across the globe. Raising funds is hardly a problem for him. He says, “I receive funds from organizations like you which help a lot to carry forward activities. Also industrialists and other fund providers help me lot for social activities. As fund providers feels that there fund is getting used for proper activity.”
Mr. Paliwal believes that dedication and will-power is a must for any dream to bear fruits. According to him, when one pursues their passion for work, nothing is difficult. In this respect, he urges all Indian citizens to work in their field of interest and government to support their initiatives.
He personally feels that in India, a lot of water gets wasted and so wants the government to conserve water by water harvesting which can then be utilized by farmers and in turn, increase returns. In addition, he wants the government to initiate some scheme to improve the life of the girl child and wants the government to initiate a similar scheme in all of India. He also urges the government to make environmental science and save girl child awareness education mandatory for all.
The village also plants 11 trees when someone dies. To prevent termite attack, this village of 8000 also plants aloe-vera plants which functions as a biopesticide around the trees. Now, they are a source of additional livelihood for several residents. “Now, residents make and market aloe vera products,” Mr. Paliwal concludes.
The progressive scheme that welcomes girl babies in Piplantri is having an impact on every part of the community. The village is greening its environment, changing attitudes toward women, reducing crime, and creating economic opportunity.