Patanjali Jha

Shri Patanjali Jha  IRS Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai. Senior Indian Revenue Service Officer

Arise Bengal – 
Believe it or not, Bengal, like the whole world, is staring at a future where populations would be struggling for access to basic natural resources. Well, I may sound like a doomsayer, but on this platform I want to share from my experience how some very small steps can completely change the course of future.
Challenges-
There are five major problems which the World is currently facing, viz, Rising global warming, Increasing health problems like cancer, depletion and contamination of water resources, soil erosion and reducing opportunities of sustainable livelihood. While these are Global problems that Bengal is also facing, Arsenic contamination of Water is a problem specific to Bengal.
Bengal, with substantial habitation living near the coast and dependent on primary sector for livelihood would be worse effected by these problems which may result into inundation of habitations with rising sea levels and loss of livelihood with degradation of ecology and rising healthcare cost.
Opportunities and Roadmap-
Some of the biggest problems have the simplest solutions. Some times these solutions are so simple that our intelligent minds refuse to even accept these solutions as possible. The solution to these problems is fairly simple and has three limbs, viz, Setting up of Food forests on waste land, Inclusion of Vetiver Grass in these food forests and planting it on landscapes like farm boundaries, river banks, highways, Arsenic contaminated lands and Setting up of a network of Compressed Biogas (CBG) Plants in the country.
Food-Forest is a concept which has evolved from ‘No Till Farming’ and is a multi-layer farming practice avoiding inorganic manure, pesticides and other conventional farming practices that are harmful to the crop, soil and environment. Or to say simply, it is a jungle where every layer of vegetation (under the ground, just above the ground, mid-sized plant, tall tree, creeper etc.) produces food not requiring any outside inputs.
Vetiver Grass is a species native to Indian subcontinent and now popular throughout the world as a magical plant which can be grown in virtually anywhere and stabilises the soil and sequesters carbon more than trees and sequesters pollutants like arsenic producing a large volume of biomass which has multiple uses ranging from providing feedstock for the cattle to providing feedstock for CBG plants.
Conclusion-
Well, for those still not able to believe, please visit us at Vaanya Farms to see how we are really doing it all! And you know what? We can achieve fourteen of seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals doing this!! It is an opportunity to make Bengal a torch bearer to this revolution. Let us not miss it!
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