Mixed forests of Uttrakhand play an important role in the conservation of water resources, biodiversity and environment.At the same time these forests are the main source of daily needs like fuel, agricultural equipments , fodder of the millions of people residing in nearby villages. Due to lack of any alternative the villagers are forced to cut trees.
Due to this unscientific and uncontrolled cutting of trees especially Oak and other broad leaf trees there is a sharp decline in the level of water resources, biodiversity and an notable increase in the temperature of hills. As the plantation programme run by various departments especially by forests department has not produced desired results. As a result most of the forest area loosing it’s density rapidly.
As most of the villagers are poor they may not be forced to stop using trees for fuel and agricultural equipment. We the Syahi devi vikas samiti SHITLAKHET has been working since 2003-2004 towards saving the mixed forests of Syahi devi -Shitlakhet area. First we visited nearby villages and had meetings with people especially women and told them the impacts of deforestation on water resources, biodiversity. Since 2005 we held dozens of meetings in nearly 40 villages.
People helped us in protecting forests from fire and uncontrolled cutting but as they had no alternatives for agricultural equipments,firewood, cutting of trees for these needs continued. Looking at the importance of the flora and fauna of this forest in 2013, I the State biodiversity board declared this forest as the biodiversity heritage site. Unfortunately some people opposed the proposal due to lack of knowledge regarding Biodiversity act 2002.
Since 2006 we focused ourselves on developing suitable alternative of wooden plough.
As you know there are approximately 12 lakh families living in rural areas of the state and most of them use wooden plough thus thousands of Oak and other broad leaf trees are cut down yearly. We requested many research organisation for the same.
In 2011 the director of Vivekanad parvatiya krishi anusandhan sansathan Almora a wing of I.C.A.R.agreed to help us in our endeavour. A joint team of Vivekanad parvatiya krishi anusandhan sansathan Almora and Syahi devi vikas samiti SHITLAKHET worked for six months in the lab and farm and developed a suitable alternative of wooden plough named V.L.Syahi loh hal.
You will be happy to know that at present more than 1000 farmers in Almora district have been using the metallic plough for 3 years.
Besides Almora this metallic plough is being used in District Chamoli and Bageshwar.Renowned environmentalists Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt ji has also come forward to support this metallic plough, his organisation has distributed 135 ploughs in two villages of Dasholi block of Chamoli district.
The main thing is that the metallic plough has been regularly improvised as per the demand of farmers. As you know that the structure of the wooden plough is different in different areas depending on the type of soil, we have to modify the metallic plough accordingly.
The metallic plough weights 13 kg.it costs Rs.700 after 50 %subsidy provided by the state government. Efforts are on to increase the subsidy up to 80 percent.
There are many challenges as well before us. First of all we need financial assistance to improve our manufacturing speed. At present with our limited resources we manufacture 150 ploughs in a month much low looking at the demand being made by farmers. The second challenge is to develop other models of the plough as per the demand of different areas.