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Adolescent girls and young female residents in the villages located inside the vicinity of evergreen Bhimbandh wildlife sanctuary in Munger district of Eastern Bihar some 2-3 year back didn’t know the uses of sanitary napkins and had to face immense problems while adopting traditional measures which were also very unhygienic for them for the particular days in a month.
Phoolmani (36) a homemaker at Bimbandh Basti, a sleepy village inside the dense Bhimbandh, the erstwhile safe bastion of Maoists, has recently started sanitary napkins and hence got rids of that problems.
Used of sanitary napkins among girls and women introduced after some girls moved to the schools located outside the village for continuing their study. “After completing my primary study at the middle school in nearby Sonarwa village, now I am reading at Kasturba school at Barhet where I came to know about such hygienic things which early we didn’t know,” told Suggi Kumari in the village. Sia Devi, grandmother of Choti Kumari who is reading at a private school, SSVM school at Lakshmipur narrated how the village girls like her granddaughter introduced many new concepts not only like use of sanitary napkins but many issues related to women.
“All this only happened here with change in the atmosphere, we are thankful to the officials who started visiting us,” was common on every lips in the villages.
Changes are apparently visible now a days when village women started direct conversion with government officials for their problems. Sanjeev Kumar, sub divisional officer (SDO), Haveli Kharaghpur has started frequent visiting the forest village for inspection. Village women who generally avoid any male particularly the outsiders, came forward to put some problems like irregularities of ration cards and old age pensions for her in-laws with Kumar and his team members.
“Nitish Kumar first time visited Bhimbandh forest covers on May 2017 and recently during his review meeting at Munger he instructed the officials to focus on the areas as the area could be transformed into a tourist spot having picturesque sites and hot water springs. Local officials all of sudden became active and started visiting the areas which really a unique and first time even for us, said Vhairab Thakur (34), a resident in the village.
“After rebels killed KC Surendra Babu, the than SP Munger on January 5, 2005 near our village, we virtually were cut off from the world, no outsider came here except the rebels. But after opening of the camp of CRPF here on 2013, rebels gradually on back foots. 313 battalion of CRPF under community service, used to provides us medicines and other daily used items some times. But after Nitish Kumar’s visit, local officials first time have taken interests on the areas,” said Aklu Thakur (73) another villager.
Bhimbandh a popular tourist destination mainly for its hot water springs, attracts tourists, however left abandon after the killing episode of superintendent of police, Munger, said Neelkamal, commandant of CRPF in the camp. “The rebels made a safe red corridor connecting the most inaccessible parts of the hilly terrains and forest covers while connecting parts of Jamui, Lakhisarai and Munger for their movements. But with opening of the camp, we somehow countered the rebels. On January 1 last more than 5 thousand vehicles of tourists from different distant places visited the hot springs here besides large number of people coming daily here,” he said.
According to SDO, Kumar, the government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore initially for developing infrastructure facilities for tourists here. “We also executed works among private agencies and forest department has started for maintain the hot springs and diverted the water for irrigations while after channelizing the streams here,” he pointed out. Recently a pucca RCC road, a hand pump and solar light has been gifted to the village by Munger district administration.
“But during our frequent visits we realized the immediate need for helping the local denizens. We assigned 16 village youths to maintain cleanness drive in the hot springs areas and started paying Rs 100 each. For the amount, the youths collect Rs 20 from each vehicles of the tourists,” Kumar said. According to him 111 units of Indira Awas has been sanctioned in two villages, Bhimbandh Basti and Sonarwa falling under his jurisdictions. Besides other governmental schemes are implemented under the personnel supervision of Kumar. The villages having 170 families mostly from ST categories. Villagers mostly depends on marginalized agriculture. Seasonal migration by village folks mainly in search of greener pastures however reduced, only 16 youths this time migrated from the village.
“The villagers mostly in the areas who once under the influence of Maoists, now joined in the mainstream. This help us to liberate Bhimbandh areas from the clutches of the rebels,” observed Sunshil MSingh Khopde, inspector general of police, Bhagalpur range. Echoing him many social activists also said that if such initiatives would be continued, fate of this region would change automatically.