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Celebrating Its Girls and Trees, This Rajasthan Village Has Planted 3.5 Lakh Saplings

A couple planting a sapling to celebrate birth of their daughter in Rajasthan.

The village stands by a single motto- Save Daughter, Water and Trees

Inclusive India

Jaipur, October 2Until some years back, the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district had turned almost dry with water level going 500-800 ft down thanks to rampant marble mining around it and consequent deforestation. This is not so now. In the last few years, the villagers have planted around 3.5 lakh trees. However, the story behind the turnaround is unique.

This documentary by Pluc TV/South Asia Monitor prepared with support of Frank Islam Foundation highlights the environmental turnaround of Piplantri village in Rajsamand district of Rajasthan

In the semi-arid desert state, the village of Piplantri was once dry and brown and the village fell prey to deforestation because of rampant marble mining.

“A lot of marble mining took place before 2000 in the area around Piplantri. The situation of the village was such that the entire forests were depleted, and the water level went down by almost 500 ft to 800 ft. Tere was no drinking water as it ran dry. All basic amenities were depleted,” said Bhawar Singh Rajput, Secretary, Watershed Committee of the village.

The birth of every girl child was becoming a burden on the family and female foeticide and infanticide were not unheard of. Girls were seen as a financial burden due to the hefty dowry system in the village. This story began with one man and has become the story of the entire village. And this was done by planting 111 trees in celebration of the birth of a girl child.

Shyam Sunder Paliwal, Chairman of Watershed Committee and Ex-Village Head, Piplantri, said: “The tradition started when my daughter, Kiran, died and we planted a tree in her memory. That is the day we understood the true value of a girl child. For every girl born in the village, we now plant 111 trees in the monsoon season. At the birth of the girl child, we put a fixed amount of money in the bank along with other villagers. So the girl can use that money and become self-reliant.”

“You should deposit Rs 11,000 and the government will deposit Rs 21,000. I swear that I will not withdraw the money that has been saved in the account until my daughter is 18 years old. The money is to be spent on my daughter’s marriage or on her further education,” said a female villager.

The funds given by the parents and donors would grow to be a few lakh rupees after 18-20 years. This turned out to be useful in the education and / or wedding of our daughter.

Since the time the first tree was planted, 3,50,000 trees have grown in and around Piplantri ensuring that with each year the future of the village gets greener and brighter. This tradition helps Piplantri grow economically and environmentally. Decade later the Piplantri village has become famous for its “eco-feministic” tradition. The villagers have planted different trees that helped them earn too, like the sheesham, mango, neem, amla and many such trees and plants.

Every year, people celebrate Raksha Bandhan – a traditional festival where sisters tie a Rakhi or sacred thread on their brothers’ wrists in return for their protection. But in Piplantri village, women have taken this tradition a step further. They tie bracelets on trees as a symbol of protection.

Paliwal said: “Piplantri has become an ideal that can set an example for the national and international community. The tree plantation drive and water conservation methods are a unique example of the government schemes being implemented at the grassroots level. Piplantri village stands by a single motto- Save Daughter, Water and Trees which leads to conserving natural resources for community upliftment. This is the spirit of Piplantri.”