Aara-Keram village, located at 32 km from Jharkhand capital Ranchi and surrounded by hills, has become a model for the rest of the country. This village has its own set of rules which are required to be followed for residing in the area.
A board has been placed on the side of a clean road at the entrance of the village, displaying the rules which are – ‘Shramdan’, ‘Nashabandi’, ban on open defecation, prohibition on leaving cattle unattended, ban on cutting trees and plants, ban on dowry system, plastic ban and deep boring ban.
These are the rules, which the people of the village had imposed on themselves about five years ago with mutual consent. The effect of these rules was such that the Aara-Keram village under Ormanjhi block has created a model of self-reliance and development, which is now being discussed in the whole country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also appreciated the model of this village in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme.
In other districts of Jharkhand, initiatives are being taken to adopt the model of Aara-Keram. The Khunti district administration has started work on a plan to implement this model in 80 villages of the district simultaneously.
The villagers of Alankel Tola in Khunti district have imposed similar rules on themselves. A group of 50 newly-elected public representatives from gram panchayats of Koderma district led by Deputy Commissioner Aditya Ranjan visited the village this month and tried to understand the modus operandi there. The DC said the plan is to develop at least one village on this pattern in every panchayat of Koderma district.
Aara-Keram has set an example in various fields, including drugs ban, water management, sanitation, education, organic farming, horticulture etc. The population of the village is barely around 1,000. Before 2018, the people of the village used to go to Ranchi or Ormanjhi for daily wage work.
Somehow, they gave a certain direction to the spring water flowing from the hill, which not only stopped soil erosion and crop failure, but the farm fields are also getting water now.
It was not so easy to take water to every field without a pump. For this, MGNREGA schemes were also used. Siddharth Tripathi, then MNREGA commissioner of Jharkhand, had inspired the people of the village a lot.
First, a loose boulder structure was built in the hill to stop the water flowing from it. As a result, the speed of water was reduced, cutting down soil erosion. Simultaneously, the water was supplied to the fields by making trenches on the sloping land of the village. Two ponds were dug near the hill. Today, water reaches the fields only by connecting pipes with the ponds.
Today, 95 per cent of the village population is dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry for livelihood, while 70 per cent of the farmers cultivate vegetables throughout the year.
Cultivation through drip irrigation is being done in about 35 acres of land. Strict rules have been implemented here to save the forest area spread over 400 acres.
Gopal Ram Bedia, the head of Aara village, said that with the help of ‘shramdan’ and mutual support, the people of Aara-Kairam have created 12 small ponds, trenches in 300 acres, mango horticulture in 20 acres, medicinal plants in five acres of land, 35 peat compost and 80 cattle sheds.
The village head said that when a meeting is held in the village, the presence of one member from every family is mandatory. In this sequence, Rs 5 per family is deposited in the village fund. The development of the village is done with the same money and by doing shramdan.
The villagers meet every Thursday and discuss the ongoing schemes.
Aara-Keram has been declared by the Jharkhand government as the first drugs-free village in the state.