DHAMTARI/CHHATTISGARH: The indigenous primitive tribal groups in Chhattisgarh, vulnerable to impact of climate change and exploitation, are endeavouring to make the world a little better.
Settled in Jabarra habitat in Dhamtari district they realised the potential of their natural resources, have now turned it as an awesome sightseer destination where the rural economy too gets prop-up with income generation through eco-tourism. Their employment statistics improved with Rs 33,500, the amount no family of the primitive tribe (PVTG) makes in the entire year, was earned in last September month from some 160 tourists who visited Jabarra village.
It was the gram sabha of Jabarra (45 km from district headquarter) who passed a resolution taking a key decision to responsibly promote ecotourism in their area on sustainable basis after Community Forest Resource Rights (CFRR) bestowed to them by the CM Bhupesh Baghel. There is though no involvement of district administration or any official agency in any activity.
Located about 120 km south of Raipur, Jabarra is blessed with unique natural forte that any urban dwellers and even foreigner as tourists might yearn for — pristine forests, mountainous terrain, river bodies, wildlife and tribal culture. What makes a perception different is the enjoyable value additions to ecotourism perspective here.
The visitors are taken for hiking, trekking and in the process get enlightened with the significance of as many as 80 medicinal plants, so far identified by the state forest department. A trained 20-member tribal team on tourism hospitality, in small groups, accompany the tourist and narrate the therapeutic utility of each plant. Here the Asia’s first group certification of medicinal-aromatic plants began with earlier support from UNDP, the villagers informed.
“We are well versed about curing and remedial use of each medical plants and shrubs, the knowledge traditionally passed on from ancestors. Tourists feel excited knowing our traditions, culture besides the healing values of plants for the treatment of various ailments when they accompany us on an adventurous expedition, trekking and hiking through the reserved forest area”, said Madhav Markam, 34, who is among the 20 members.
Marika Drobnik, a recent tourist from Poland was overwhelmed with her experience. “Delighted to see totally self-dependent Jabarra village with people co-existing with nature. What made my visit even more treasurable was the amazing hospitality of these people. There is nothing better you can do while being in India than visiting Jabarra village”, she averred.
With no mobile network, the visitors can be at stay home of tribal family or the rest house built in 1918, where food prepared by villagers are served.
The group identified as “Jabarra Healers”, their gram sabha had signed a tripartite MoU with an organisation Arya Prerana Samiti for capacity building and ‘Unexplored Bastar’ to support as tour advisor on a marketing-promotion-sustainable business model.
“Instead of mass tourism, the focus here is to encourage adventure-wellness tourism aimed to detox, in the first of its kind initiative where only primitive tribes remain involved. We initially groomed their strengths and knowledge in harnessing the potential of their natural resources into ingenious scope for tourist destination. In return the local communities doing well economically”, Dhamtari collector Rajat Bansal told this newspaper and further added that encouraging responses have begun pouring in from tourists, including foreigners.
Tribal community takes pride in their nature, knows best about the non-timbre forest produce and use the forest resources while conserving ecological balance.