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Greening Red Earth - Bamboo's role in the environmental and socio-economic rehabilitation of villages devastated by brick mining « Technical Reports « Downloads

Date postedSeptember 28, 2012
Downloaded1573 times
CategoriesTechnical Reports
AuthorVijay Kutty and Chitra Narayanan


The Gangetic plains in northern India are widely regarded as one of the most fertile areas in the world. The holy city of Allahabad where three sacred rivers of India . The Ganga – the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati – meet is part of this fertile belt. In the villages surrounding the city, farming is the main occupation. However, in the 1960s, the rich loam of the area attracted brick miners and the productive land was gobbled up to feed the incessant demands of the construction industry. With their land leased to the brick industry, the local community was hard-pressed to find an occupation in the villages and began migrating.

In 1996, INBAR and Utthan, a local NGO, entered the area with a sustainable development project that had bamboo as the backbone. Although over 4,000 hectares of land was degraded by brick mining, the project initially took up only 106 hectares, in Kotwa and Rahimabad villages, which was at the head of the catchment area, on an experimental basis. The objectives were:
. To repair the widespread economic degradation in the area caused by intensive brick mining by planting bamboo.
. To provide income and employment benefits to the people in the area through a composite livelihoods approach.
. To improve the socio-economic conditions of the communities in the villages and lift them above the poverty line.
. To identify and develop species of bamboo that would be suitable to the needs of the local communities.
. To provide training and instruction to the local people on the sustainable uses of bamboo.
. Transfer of lab-to-land nursery techniques to help farmers grow bamboo in a cost-effective manner.

In 2003, when the project area was revisited after five years, the difference in the land was perceptible. The red earth had been replaced by green expanses.

Bamboo grew in abundance. And, on what was once degraded land where only wild grass grew, many had begun farming once again.