Muhammad Ibrahim, 25, of Chhatiya village is busy making bamboo tree guards/bamboo protectors locally known as jafri. Ibrahim is not alone as several of his co-villagers including Md Rahul, Md Akhtar, Md Islam and Md Azizur are also doing the same.
They said each of them was earning Rs 400 to Rs 600 daily and was happy doing the job.
“When we lost jobs due to Covid-19 lockdown and had to return home from other states, this job gave us hope as we are earning as much we used to in other provinces as migrant workers,” said Ibrahim.
Chhatiya village with a population of about 10,000 under Purnia east block has set an example for the rest of the country facing a job crisis during the pandemic.
“We get Rs 4 for making one protector and we make 100 to 150 protectors daily and earn Rs 400 to 600,” they said, adding, they would have faced extreme crisis without this job.
“There is never a dearth of jobs, it is created and one should know this very art,” said Md Tabrez, 22, of the same village.
“Over 3,000 people of the village are engaged in making bamboo protectors and the products are being supplied to all the districts of Bihar for meeting the requirements of the highly ambitious Jal Jeevan Hariyali project of Bihar government, requiring plantation of 2.50 crore saplings.
Md Sabir, the man behind the bamboo protectors, praised the local administration for giving the business a boost by linking it to the government scheme.
“After it was linked to government schemes such as planting saplings by MGNREGA and Jal Jeevan Hariyali, it started taking the shape of an industry with most of the over 3000 villagers getting accommodated in the job,” he said.
He said bamboos, the chief ingredient of the product they are making, are most brought from Assam. To fence a sapling, a set of four bamboo protectors is needed.
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Purnia district magistrate (DM) Rahul Kumar, who oversaw the campaign to identify migrant workers’ skills to help them find a matching job, said he was happy that over 3,000 workers, mostly migrants, were engaged in the work of making Bihar green.
“Besides, we have set up units for making readymade garments at Dagarua and Jalagarh and banana processing and bags manufacturing units are in pipeline,” Kumar added.
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Bihar government has resolved to plant 2.50 crore saplings to overcome the green deficit in the state. After Jharkhand was carved out in the year 2000, Bihar was left with just 9 per cent of green cover of its total area (94,163 sqkm).
The Nitish Kumar government has already launched a unique initiative called ‘Jal Jeevan Hariyali’ to recharge and rejuvenate natural water sources like wells and ponds across the state and to plant trees. The state government has fixed a budget of Rs 24,000 crore for the scheme which will be spent over a period of three years.