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Plays to woo Saranda folk

Jamshedpur, Sept. 19: Nukkad natak (street plays) will find an audience in Saranda from next month, thanks to a plan of the forest department to woo villagers for implementing watershed projects at the former Maoist den.

Divisional forest officer of Saranda K.K. Tiwary said 13 professionals, who were appointed in July for the execution of watershed projects, were conducting entry point survey in the villages.

“Since July, the professionals have already carried out entry point surveys in three of the six clusters. The survey in the remaining clusters will be over by the month-end. The team will start another survey for preparing a detailed project report (DPR) of the watershed projects from the first week of October, during which the forest department will engage professional artistes to attract villagers,” said the DFO.

Tiwary told The Telegraph the team would also assess the basic requirements of villagers during the survey ahead of preparing a DPR.

“During the survey for the DPR, the team will meet each household in the 56 villages and identify their main source of income or livelihood. The tech force has to interact with villagers to know about problems they face in the forest. We need to strike a chord before interacting with the docile and fear-stricken villagers. And for that, there is no better way than staging street plays,” he said.

According to the DFO, the artistes would have to be well versed with the local Ho language to convey their message to villagers while enacting the plays.

Tiwary said they would recruit 10 professionals, including postgraduates in sociology and industrial relations.

“The basic idea behind engaging artistes is to encourage people in the tribal-dominated forest to open up for development projects so that the objectives of the much-talked about Saranda Development Plan can be achieved successfully,” the DFO said.

He said the forest department would hire 10 professional artistes for five months. The artistes will start performing sometime in October.

The watershed projects are part of the Rs 54-crore Saranda Development Plan, a brainchild of Union minister Jairam Ramesh.

As part of the programme, check dams, wells, community ponds and springs will be dug up to resolve the irrigation problems of local residents.

A major chunk of Saranda, spread over 850sqkm, is home to iron ore reserves, besides sal trees.

However, lack of resources as well as know-how about irrigation models have left the residents with scant scope to grow crops or vegetables.


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