Andaman Chronicle

The Daily Diary of the Islands

Changing Lives:

Island Girl from Remote Kadamtala Island Plays Active Role in Forest Conservation and Community Upliftment at Rajasthan

Meet Ms. Sunita Das, a 24 year old Social Innovator from Kadamtala, M. Andaman D/o of Ajit Das, currently working as SBI Youth for India Fellow in Udaipur District, Rajasthan. Sunita completed her Graduation (B.A. B. Ed in Geography) from Regional Institute of Education Bhubaneswar, Orissa and Masters in Local Governance and Development from Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth and Development, Chennai, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport.

She says, as a development practice student; she always wanted to learn new things and experience from the new places. After completion of her post Graduation, Sunita got an opportunity to be a part of SBI Youth for India Fellowship and it has given her a platform to explore experience and contribute to the Rural India.

As her fellowship project, Sunita today is enabling community institutions like Gram Vikas Committees, Nature Club, SHGs, and Forest Protection Committees for Sustainable Forest Management and restoring 65 hectares of Common land as a Joint Forest Management with native forest sampling and making boundary walls to secure them from animals.

Presently Sunita lives in Jhadol Block of Udaipur District of Rajasthan, where 95% are tribal population, practicing agriculture, migrant laborers who collect forest products for livelihood. Sunita says, “When I started interacting with the villagers and taking awareness sessions on forest conservation, I realized that people really did not care about conserving forest in spite of being depended on forest. Because of overuse of forests and common land, it started degrading and become an open barren land and people weren’t left with much land to do forestry in their backyard.

Sunita then came up with the idea to restore the forest land and also help the villagers for their livelihood. Now she is rejuvenating 65 hectares of common land with income generation plantation and native forest sampling as a Joint Forest Management and also formed a Forest Protection Committee to take care of land, which also includes women, youth and men of the village. From whatever forest produce which is being sold in the market, a percentage will be deposit in the village common bank account for village development work.

Sunita is also converting four Government Schools into “Green School”

She says, “We urban people can easily get fruits and Vegetables from super markets. But the poor kids they can’t enjoy the taste of fruits because their parents earn only 4000 to 5000 Rupees per month and they can’t afford. Sunita then came up with an idea for planting fruit tree in the school boundaries, so that village children can enjoy the fruits without any cost. She has also formed a Nature Club with school students to take care of plants after she leaves.

Sunita has also bought a desktop for village kids and is training them on basic computers.

Sunita has also involved herself in providing training to the tribal women on basket making with the help of forest departments for their better livelihood. Hailing from an Island territory and living in an entirely different region is an amazing experience for me. Experiencing different culture, different geography, language, food, traditional practices etc is a thrilling experience, Sunita expressed. It also enhances my knowledge and teaches me how to live life with basic amenities, patience, kindness and much more.

The SBI Youth for India Fellowship is a platform where one can dedicate 13 months for Rural Development while experiencing a wonderful 13 months journey with new people and new place, Sunita adds. 

To know more about fellowship, log on to www.youthforindia.org