Living in Nature's Lap

Madhya Pradesh is known for its forest treasures and Patalkot is one of its best nature’s gifts with great geographical and scenic beauty. Patalkot is situated in Tamia block of Chhindwara district encircled with green and fine-looking Satpura ranges. Patalkot is a horse –shoe shaped rift valley spread over an area of 79 Sq. Km. with the lowest point of valley at 500 feet above the Mean Sea Level while the highest being at 1700 feet above.

The Patalkot forest is so well hidden that people on the outside did not even know it ever existed. Even there were misconceptions regarding the place that people living here are dwarf and the forest is so dense that even sunlight could not reach the surface of Patalkot. However, the realities are revealed when one visits the place. Patalkot is endowed with rich plant resources due to the topography, rainfall and climate. All these factors have resulted in to the diversity of vegetation types. Starting from Teak to Sal, various high altitude herbs, shrubs, and many endangered species are available in the region.

Patalkot is not a single village but it is a cluster of 12 revenue villages under three panchayats—Rated, Ghatlinga and Harrakachha, divided into 27 'dhanas' or hamlets with a total population of about 2800. These villages are located at the distance of 2-3 km each. Patalkot is the home to a tribal culture mainly constituted by Bhariya (about 80%) and Gond tribe (about 20%). Bhariya tribe is one out of the three Primitive Tribal Groups of MP. The tribe is basically confined to the regions of Patalkot valley and there population is continuously decreasing therefore a number of governmental efforts are being done to save the tribes. Bharia development authority is also working in the area for the welfare of the community.

The communities are living in nature’s lap for time immemorial and they can’t even imagine their life without nature. Their livelihoods, eating habits, culture & traditions and health all totally depend on the forests and natural resources. Wild plants they consume are storehouse of Essential Fatty Acids and micronutrients viz. calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, etc. Large number of forest produces like honey, Chironji, Harra, Baheda, Amla, Mahul leaf, Kosum seed, Mahua, Gulli, Maida Chhal, Bamboo and Tendu etc. were collected for self use. At the present time they are marketing these products for their livelihoods and we can see various products viz. Nature’s Honey, Patalkot Trifala, Pickles etc. in markets.

This valley is known as a treasure of medicinal plants. According Madhya Pradesh Vigyan Sabha (MPVS), which is working in the area for past 10-12 years more than 300 varieties of medicinal plants has been identified in the area. The tribal of Patalkot are skilled in using the forest plants to make effective medicines. Herbal healers locally known as Bhumka are real knowledge bank. They utilize medicinal plants that are grown in the valley.

Other then earning from forest produce, the natives of Patalkot depends on agriculture produce for their foods and livelihoods. They use to practice very simple and primitive techniques of agriculture but after the intervention of MPVS, they came to know about the new and better agriculture practices. They cultivate maize, millets like kodo, kutki, jowar, ballar (which is used as a pulse), etc Now wheat, beans, gram, til, seasonal vegetables are also grown in the area.

The tribal use to consume ‘Peja’, which actually is a mixture of fermented rice water (starch), buttermilk, Barley water, Lemon, and Kutki (local millet). Peja can be a better probiotic medicine. According to the Bhumkas (Local Healers), this mixture increases availability of nutrient in body and boosts the immune response. Mushroom which is one of renowned expensive delicacy of modern world is been eaten by the tribal of Patalkot for time immemorial.

The level of education is very low in the villages of Patalkot. A very small number of people have the qualification beyond primary. Economic conditions of the villagers, inaccessible topography, none availability of schools in villages, distance of school etc. are the reasons of low level of formal school education in Patalkot. There is not a single middle or high school in the area and the children have to go outside of Patalkot for further education. Female literacy level is even lower in this area.

The health facilities are also on the verge in the villages of Patalkot. There is only one PHC in Patalkot situated at Gaildubba village and this only PHC is also not properly functioning, it is facing the lack of workforce also. Due to hard to reach location it is quite not possible to provide full fledge health institutions and staffs in the area. An interesting incident of Gaildubba village is that an Anganwadi Bhawan was constructed in the village in 2007 and this bhawan was inaugurated by CM Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan. After inauguration, Mr. Chouhan halted for one night in this Bhawan. And because he stayed here the local administration said that this building will be used as a guest house rather as an Anganwadi Center.

Bhaglu Bharti (Bhariya) panch of Gaildubba says that we are observing drastic changes since past few years. Deforestation is on its high and the threats of deforestation and exploitation of people are continuously increasing in Patalkot. With the increasing exposure of the community of Patalkot to the outside world, the tribal especially the present generation are getting trapped in the glitter of modern world and market. The incidence of migration is continuously increasing which is affecting the originality and ethnicity of tribal Culture.

Comments   

0 #1 h.k.soni 2013-02-15 06:21
protection and conservation required at any cost,also need vulture conservation.
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