February 2014 By Life Positive Sometimes good news reaches you from completely unexpected sources. A nondescript village called Piplantri in the southern part of Rajasthan is one such place. The panchayat of Piplantri village has ingeniously achieved two big feats; the safety of the girl child, and protection of environment, in one single stroke. Fostering life in more ways than one It has been planting 111 trees every time a girl is born in the village. Not restricted only to planting, the community also makes sure that the trees survive and attain fruition as the girls grow up. This amazing initiative was started by the village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal in the memory of his deceased daughter, Kiran. According to Paliwal, 60 girls are born every year in the village, on an average. Since the past six years, the village community has managed to plant over 40,000 trees, that include neem, sheesham, mango, amla, etc on the common cattle grazing ground. Also, to prevent these trees from being infested with termites, the residents have planted over two lakh aloe vera plants around them. These plants have become their secondary source of livelihood. People also plant 11 trees whenever a family member dies. However, half of the families of this 8000-strong village, are reluctant to accept the girl child. Such families are identified by a village committee comprising the village school principal along with panchayat and anganwadi members. A fund of Rs 21,000 is collected by the community for every girl born while the parents add Rs 10,000. The total sum is then turned into a fixed deposit for the girl, with a maturity period of 20 years. “The best part about this scheme is that to qualify for it, parents have to guarantee that thay will send their girl to school regularly, not marry her off before 18 years of age, and also to take care of the trees planted at their daughter’s birth,” says Paliwal. This model village has several other achievements to its credit as well, like a studio-recorded anthem, and a website of its own. The panchayat has completely banned alcohol, open grazing of animals and cutting of trees. Villagers claim there has not been any police case here for the last seven to eight years. Determination and sincerity can bring about miracles. Can the rest of India follow suit?
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