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Education

Transformation Of Wasteland Into Greenbelt In Jodhpur
By Varun Arya, October 2011 [[email protected]]

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Editor – A couple of years ago a friend from Delhi sent some beautiful pictures of Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort for uploading. On seeing the pictures another friend told me that he was leaving for Jodhpur the next day to give a talk at the Aravali Institute of Management. He said the Director of the Institute was an old friend; they had studied together at IIM A. One thing led to another and I met the Director Varun Arya a few months later. I felt as if had known him for years, in fact he knew my wife. Small world! Varun kept me abreast of the Institute’s activities through mail.

In 2011 Varun and others went on a fast unto death in protest against demand for money by local authorities for registering land. I admired Varun’s effort. Fortunately the Government relented and agreed to his request.

A couple of months I received a mail from Varun on the amazing transformation of wasteland in Jodhpur district into an oasis of greenery and water. Water and soil conservation, effective change in rural India are subjects that are very close to my heart. I requested Varun to document their work by showing pictures of land before and after. You can see pictures in PDF file link below. But first read Varun’s story.

Varun Arya wrote “To build our campus, six years back we had purchased 236 bighas (around 94.4 acres) of private extremely high salinity wasteland in Jodhpur District on which nothing could grow, nothing could be constructed and there was no water in/around the land. During the last six years, this land has been painstakingly transformed by us and it now has 3 kms long six feet high boundary wall with barbed wire fencing, 15 lakes having around 6 crore litres of water with migratory birds visiting, two bridges, over 6000 trees grown up to 15 feet, 60 solar lights, three huge lawns of around 2.5 acres each, six smaller lawns, a temple on the natural mound surrounded by 1500 plants, eight rooms including two guest rooms with attached bathrooms, five classrooms for a proposed village school and vegetables grown organically.

Last year we had our 9th Annual Convocation at the above site attended by around 1000 persons, in which we had erected 70 Swiss tents each with attached bathroom and cold/hot running water. Over 200 persons who came from outside Jodhpur and stayed in these tents including CEOs and other distinguished persons really liked the stay and the environment terming it as truly exclusive, unique and unforgettable. For details about site (at Aravali Nagar, Village Kaparda, Tehsil Bilara, District Jodhpur) http://www.1stholistic.com/reading/prose/A2007/power-of-vision-and-might.htm.
You can visit our site http://www.aravali.org.”

The author is Director, Aravili Institute of Management, Jodhpur. He is a proud alumnus of IIT Delhi (1976-81 batch) and IIM Ahmedabad (1981-83 batch) and was the President of IIT Delhi Alumni Association and Secretary of IIM Ahmedabad Alumni Association. After 16 years in  senior positions leading corporates, the last of which with American multinational DuPont, for the last around 12 years he started work on dream project of establishing and shaping up a world-class educational complex, envisioned to be a model of no compromise, in an out of way place like Jodhpur in his home state of Rajasthan. His id is [email protected].

To see pictures of transformation (article in PDF format) click here 

Editor – The purpose of sharing this experience is to show you what good intent and determination can do in a desert area. Barren land has fifteen lakes today. Think of the impact on water levels. 

At a time where land acquisition by corporate and builders has resulted in protests nationwide I wonder why corporates, power plants do not acquire larger areas of wasteland instead. Idle land is put to good use and productive land is saved. The latter shall help increase food production and hopefully reduce prices.

It is not my intent to solicit students for the Institute or professionals for its management courses.

Varun’s work is a great example of the ‘Power of Dreaming’.

Also read:
Traditional forms of Water Harvesting

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