Maharashtra Arogya Mandal (MAM) is a NGO working in the field of healthcare Tribal development and Education since 1960. MAM is implementingBhimashankar Tribal Development (BTDP) Project since – 1981 in tribal blocks (Ambegaon, Junnar and Khed) of Pune District.
Padarwadi District Pune Maharashtra India is a remote village 800 meters downhill from Bhimashankar area which produces tones of paddy annually. The produce is carried to a local mill, several times in a year for de-husking by head load after a trek over a 12 kilometers to reach the nearest civic, Bhimashankar. They carry the load over steep inclines in the hilly terrain as electricity is yet to reach Padarwadi, a small hamlet till 2013.
In 2010 this project we had technical engineering support from Cummins India Foundation and social engineering was implemented by MAM. Maharashtra Arogya Mandal with Cummins (I) Foundation, met with villagers to explore the feasibility of running a rice mill with electricity generated from local Pongamia seed oil, seeds which are readily available in this area are considered as green fuel (bio diesel). Now, entire harvest process is conducted efficiently and cost-effectively in Padarwadi itself and has lessened the herculean task of tribal. The tribals are running the rice-mill very efficiently and in cooperative manner. Now they can husk rice by extracting oil from Pongamia seeds, which in turn can be used to run a generator that can power their husking machines.
The BTDP project area is at height of 1000 to 1100 meters above mean sea level and inhabited by the tribal-Mahadeo-Koli (schedule tribes) which receives rainfall about 2000 to 3000 mm. Though it receives heavy rainfall during rainy season i.e. June to September, in summer, drinking water becomes a severe problem.
The work started with pre-primary schools repairs with support from OXFAM. We also started to tackled the problem of severe drinking water scarcity in summer under the 'Water for health Programme’ funded by CAPART, Govt. of India, progressing from drilling of bore wells / hand pumps and then to village ponds with a kind help from Arbeiterwohlfahrt Germany. The work started in three villages and up-till now we have worked in 207 hamlets under various programmes like watershed development activities.
Socio Economic and Geographical Situation of the Project:
1) Scattered hamlets connected by steep and precarious foot paths, 1-3 Km from each other.
2)Transport of harvest from field to home by head-load only. Few Landless persons.
3) Land is hilly, barren, unfit for cultivation, but large land holdings lacking irrigation facilities. Low returns from Rainfed agriculture produce.
4) Medical facilities are extremely scarce.
5) Drinking water is a serious problem in summer.
6) No public transport in 50% of the area.
7) Government services - very poor. Programs, facilities etc hardly reach most of the population.
Since 1981, MAM has been implementing following activities to overcome the above problems.
o Awareness creation and building knowledge and skills on the aspects related to natural resource management & livelihood.
o Formation of village institution/ users groups and its strengthening. viz- Village Development Committee, Food Grain Bank, Self Help Group, Non Timber Forest Produce Societies etc.
o Creation of village development fund.
o Natural Resource Development through land, water, vegetation & live stock development.
o Promotion of sustainable agricultural practices like-Vermi composting.
o Economic development through incentive for chick and goat rearing, micro entrepreneurship, grain banks.
o Improvement in health, hygiene and sanitation through health care activities, kitchen gardening, soak pits etc.
o Promotion of improved cooking devices.
o Also MAM is running a free tribal girls hostel “Muktangan” to promote education
The overall programme approach and strategy is having focus on Participation, Empowerment, Sustainability and Self-reliance.