For most part, travelers generally focus on cities and adjoining areas and often ignore what might truly reflect the culture and society of a country – the rural belt. Take India for example – think of a trip there and you’re wondering mainstream cities such as Mumbai or Delhi. Or, if you plan something beyond these, you’re thinking Agra for the Taj Mahal, Goa for the beaches and the likes. But did you know, while India has 4000 cities and towns, it has over 640,000 villages. According to the 2011 census of India, 68.84% of Indians lived in 640,867 different villages. And these villages are in many ways far more sustainable than their urban counterparts. Here’s a few examples from the country and how they’ve blended sustainability in their own unique ways. Perhaps, these places could form part of your next trip to the country.
Ralegan Siddhi village (West India)
- Carried out programs like tree planting, terracing to reduce soil erosion and digging canals to retain rainwater. This has helped transform the fortunes of the village which fighting with poverty and hopelessness in the 1970’s.
- For energy, the village uses solar power, biogas (some generated from the community toilet) and a windmill
- All the village street lights have separate solar panels.
Khonoma (East India)
- Also regarded as the first Green Village in India
- The terrain of the village is hilly, ranging from gentle slopes to steep and rugged hillsides. The hills are covered with lush forestland, rich in various species of flora and fauna.
- The village has completely banned hunting and logging in their forests.
- Villagers also known to practise a unique form of agriculture. Shifting cultivation or jhum (instead of the traditional slash-and-burn method) enriches the soil.\
Odanthurai (South India)
- Solar street lighting and biogas using human and cattle excrement. The biogas system is connected to each house for cooking purpose.
- The village not only generates sustainable electricity but also sells excess power to the state Electricity Board.
- Rapid development, focussed on the community, has seen the building of a primary school, a middle school and a high school in the village
- People are provided with free training to setting up small shops and some of them are now making jute bags and mats
Bhotna (North India)
- A group of 2,000-odd women in this village have taken it upon themselves to fight what they call “cancerous farming practices”.
- Alarmed at the deteriorating quality of soil and water thanks to pesticides, the women here decided to adopt organic farming and made use of open spaces outside their houses to grow vegetables.
- Their success can be gauged by the fact that organic farming is now practiced at more than 25 neighbouring villages.