A fitting gift for Bihar’s ‘green’ daughters

By Imran Khan, IANS,

Patna : For the daughters of Bihar’s Dharhara village, whose pledge to mother nature has made the place a green haven, a fitting gift is on the way from the state government – a residential school and a children’s development centre.

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Dharhara, the small village 230 km east of Patna in Bhagalpur district, made big news a long time back when its families decided to plant fruit trees, including mango and litchi, to celebrate the birth of every girl child born there.

The practice is for every family to plant at least 10 trees whenever a girl child is born. It has paid off well as Dharhara now makes other villages turn green with its own greenery.

The state government has decided to show its appreciation by presenting the village with a Kilkari Bal Kendra and a Kasturba Gandhi Balika residential school to encourage the remarkable commitment to society and nature, officials said.

Kilkari, under the human resources development (HRD) department, works to promote creative learning among children in the state.

Anjani Kumar Singh, principal secretary of the HRD department, said Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will personally gift the school and the children’s centre to the daughters of Dharhara village June 6.

“Nitish Kumar will inaugurate a Kilkari Bal Kendra and will lay the foundation stone of a Kasturba Gandhi Balika residential school,” Singh told IANS.

Dharhara village impressed Nitish Kumar last year with its initiative, which symbolises the empowerment of women and the protection of the environment in a unique way.

The chief minister had then lauded the village and dubbed it a role model for other villages in Bihar and also in other states.

Kumar said then that the novel initiative served the twin purpose of environment conservation and promotion of gender equality.

During his visit to the village, the chief minister will also gift toys to Lavi Kumari and another girl.

Last year in June, during his visit to Dharhara, Kumar had planted a tree to mark the birth of Lavi Kumari, born to the proud parents Saurabh Singh and Priyanka Devi.

The HRD official said that the chief minister last month asked him to plan something to gift the daughters of Dharhara village.

“The education department proposed to set up a Kilkari Bal Kendra to help children learn painting, music and other arts and crafts,” he said.

According to Kilkari officials, the Bal Kendra in Dharhara village will be the first outside the urban centres in Bihar.

“A team of top officials from the HRD department and Kilkari visited Dharhara early this month in connection with the launch of the centre,” an official said.

Dharhara is one of the few villages in Bihar with primary, middle and high schools running.

“The Bal Kendra will be set up in the middle school and will train children in music, painting, yoga and arts and crafts,” an official said.

Munna Singh, a middle-aged villager, said that it was an age-old practice in the village to celebrate and greet the birth of a girl by planting at least 10 fruit-bearing trees.

“We treat a girl child as the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi (the Hindu goddess of wealth),” he said.

According to Manhu Devi, another villager, all families in Dharhara, without any social or economic divide, have been planting trees.

“This has made our village uniquely green and happy,” she said.

At present there are over 20,000 fruit-bearing trees in Dharhara.

The fruit trees have also helped the villagers economically, bringing them considerable earnings.

“The fruit trees are like bank deposits to them. It also keeps the environment rich,” Munna Singh said.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at [email protected])