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Saranda to turn into milk production hub

Jamshedpur, Jan. 3: Having broken free from the shackles of red terror, Saranda is set to milk the success of a slew of development projects.

In the latest initiative, the forest department has decided to set up six milk production centres at Manoharpur and adjoining areas, which were the epicentre of Naxalite activities for almost a decade.

While two of the proposed milk production centres will be set up at Manoharpur, one each will come up at Jeraikela and Romia. More will come up in phases.

Initially, the forest department had decided to set up four milk production centres in Manoharpur and Jeraikela, but after conducting a survey in 2011 year-end, they decided to set up raise the number keeping in view the viability of the project.

The divisional forest office in Saranda has already started setting up cowsheds at the proposed milk production centres. According to divisional forest officer of Saranda K.K. Tiwary, the milk centres will be set up via a co-operative society that will have local residents as members.

“As many as 30 high-breed cows will be provided to each of the centres. There will also be a central milk collection centre and a feed centre. The milk produced will be first supplied to CRPF camps and subsequently to markets in Ranchi and Jamshedpur,” he said.

Tiwary added that the villagers, who would be roped in to run the milk production centres, would be provided training on how to rear cows and eventually turn it into a commercial activity.

The DFO said that the forest officials were preparing a detailed project report for the milk production centres and once it was ready, it would be sent to the state forest department for approval so that necessary funds could be obtained.

He added that officials of Saranda forest division would oversee production and also the marketing part.

On what prompted the authorities to choose milk production, the DFO said they took the decision on the basis of a survey carried out at 73 villages under the watershed project.

The survey took note of every household’s source of sustenance, topography of the villages, availability of water bodies and inclination shown by residents towards a specific profession or production activity.

“The survey for the watershed project had started four months ago, and after its near completion, we have started ‘entry-point activities’ or activities that we want to undertake to build a rapport with the villagers. This idea to set up milk production centres is part of that attempt,” the DFO told The Telegraph.

He explained that the idea was to introduce commercial activities in the area and in the process, change the quality of life of people.

Notably, the Centre sanctioned Rs 54 crore to the state forest department to carry out watershed projects in Saranda. The department started spadework in May 2011 by launching a survey in various fields with the help of professionals.

Besides developing roads and irrigation system and providing houses to local people under the Centre-sponsored Saranda Development Plan, the state government also wants to give employment opportunities to the villagers to eke out a better living.

Although the forest department has been working on the plan to set up milk production centres for over two months, fears of rebels resurfacing in Saranda have not deterred the campaign.

The police and CRPF personnel launched Operation Anaconda-II on December 11, 2012, to drive away Maoists from the forest, weeks after the rebels torched heavy vehicles in Kiriburu to assert their presence.