Maharogi Sewa Samiti Header Image. Image consists of three photos (Photo 1: Two girls sitting in class. Photo2: A landscape photo with lots of vibrant green trees and a white house in the background. Photo3: A close up view of an old man's face.)

Somnath:


A road beside a fish pond[ Established ]

The Somnath Project began as a leprosy rehabilitation center in 1967, in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. Baba's vision was that cured leprosy patients would till the land and produce grain for the entire Maharogi Sewa Samiti family. The project began on 1371 acres of land allotted by the state government. The land was a degraded forest that had to be manually, inch by inch to make it suitable for agriculture.

From 1994, the project has also spread to about 27 villages in the vicinity of Somnath. This marks a major point of departure in the work of MSS in the direction of a broader rural development intervention.

Every 6 months, youth from these villages are provided training at Somnath on watershed development and various non-farm activities. They then begin to act as pressure points for government representatives to start programs in their own villages. 416 hectares of land have recently been earmarked by government for the Somnath project in the adjacent forest to initiate Joint Forest Management programs.

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[ Rain-water Harvesting ]

The project area of Somnath is bound on one side by a hill and on the other side, by a river and as such presents an ideal setting for watershed development activities. 6 check dams and 22 dugout ponds harvest rainwater. There are 17 open dug wells of which 6 are for drinking water and 11 for irrigation. Together these structures provide supplemental irrigation to the kharif crop over 340 acres. On the whole, agriculture is practiced over 850 acres, growing rain fed paddy, soybean, tuar (pigeon pea) and wheat.

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A field of growing food plants[ Agriculture ]

Over the years, Somnath's mandate has been to grow enough grain for the current and future year for all MSS projects and a surplus to sell in the market. Wheat, paddy and hybrid corn/sorghum are the three major food grains produced. Somnath volunteers produced 3500 quintiles of paddy in 2000-2001. Different varieties of fruits are also grown at Somnath and Anandwan including lime, coconut, banana, orange, guava, sweet lime, grapes, watermelon and custard apple. The produce is an important source of revenue for the organization. It's hard to imagine that on land, which produces prolific quantities of food and boasts a yield per acre five times greater than the average in the State of Maharashtra, was once dead and barren.

At present, 580 cured leprosy patients live in Somnath, tilling the land and producing grain for the huge MSS family. All cured leprosy patients who have not been absorbed by the other activities of MSS are sent to Somnath to manage the fields and farms. Apart from agriculture, fishery, dairying, goatery, and dryland horticulture is practiced here.

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[ Annual Youth Camps ]

Every year, youth camps called "Shram Sanskar Chhavni" (Camps for Promoting the Culture of Labor) are organized at Somnath since 1967. About 1000 young people come to Somnath to live and work here for 10 days. The schedule of these camps consists of 4 hours of voluntary balor (shramdaan) in the morning, followed by discussions and meetings on various topics in the afternoon. These youth camps were inspired by Baba's idea that youth have the power to change the face of the countryŠ and the world!


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