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We The People | Of Green Thumbs And Good Hills: The 'Bhalo Pahar' Of Raska

Kamal Chakraborty is a writer who runs the Bhalopahar Society dedicated to forest conservation and tribal development

We The People | Of Green Thumbs And Good Hills: The 'Bhalo Pahar' Of Raska
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Bhalopahar. Doesn’t the name have a feel-good consonance? Bhalopahar Society in Purulia, West Bengal, was founded by five dreamers and writers associated with Kourob (a renowned ann­ual Bengali magazine that dares to offer writings outside the established scho­ols of literature). The gro­up exhausted all their savings in order to promote afforestation. It is poetry of green amid the rudeness of depleting forests and wilderness. It is an ashram run by Kamal Chak­ra­b­orty aka Kamalbabu. If you ever meet him, you will know his elements smell of earth, tree sap, tribal skin and a little bitterness aga­inst city-oriented civilisation. You can find him on any day, clad in white dhoti and ganji, probably near a tree or with tribal children or writing in his cluttered hut. Over the years, Chakra­bo­rty has bought more than a hundred bighas of land that he converted into a forest called Raska. Here, the land is lush with 1.20 lakh trees. It restores nature and feeds the birds, insects and small animals. He and his friends educate San­t­hal youngsters to preserve their tribal culture. At present, Bhalopahar Society, which commenced on September 1, 1996, has 55 like-minded souls, who have joined hands to rebuild the greens of Purulia’s laterite soil.

(This appeared in the print edition as "The ‘Good Hills’ and Green Forests of Raska")

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Text and photographs by Sandipan Chatterjee

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