Born Again

Melaghar village
A rural organisation breathes life into the listless people

Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Briksha Mitra Sangha
a rural voluntary organisation
in Tripura
Established 1987
Forerunner Subodh Sur
The makeshift nursery in Melaghar is now brimming with saplings of various tree species

The Bangladesh war in 1971 destroyed the forests around Melaghar village. A large number of refugees from across the border took shelter in the forests. Population pressure on land increased. There were more agricultural labourers than needed. There was wanton felling of the then abundant sal, teak and bamboo forests. Within a decade there was not a tree in sight.

Subodh Sur, a young graduate, formed a group of 15 youths in his home village Rudijala in Melaghar block and started spreading environmental awareness among the people. From 1984 onwards, informal meetings and discussions were held. Finally, in November 1987, the Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Briksha Mitra Sangha (BBMS) was formed.

The BBMS encouraged the plantation of trees in private lands. BBMS also planted bamboo saplings in a makeshift nursery. In the early 1990s, the Tripura government adopted the joint forest management (JFM) programme. In association with the BBMS, the forest department launched the pilot JFM project in 1991-92. It started with 135 families. "Today, we have some 340 families involved in the project," says Sur.

A total of 13,000 ha of land has been afforested so far. The groundwater level has also risen. BBMS has also established a school in Melaghar, where youth from all over Tripura are taught the basics of JFM and how it can be replicated elsewhere.

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No water
Water war
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How to harvest
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Jal yodhas
Way ahead
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