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This IAS Officer Generates Jobs By Mechanising Leaf Plates Making

2011 batch IAS officer lalit Jain started ‘Pattal Project’ in 2018, which changes the live of rural women in the state. He roped in rural women through the state Rural Livelihood Mission to empower them financially. He bagged the prestigious Civil Services Award for his initiative.

41-year old Savita, who hails from Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh, has been supporting her family since 2018. She is a member of a women self-help group (SHG), which makes traditional leaf plates (donas and pattals) to serve food, from broad leaves of trees like Teak and Sakhu. It all started in January 2018, when 2011-batch IAS officer Lalit Jain got transferred to Sirmaur as deputy commissioner. He started the ‘Pattal Project’ for women’s self-help organisations generating lot of jobs.

Mr Lalit is now working as the Director of Environment department but his scheme has been implemented in the entire state. His idea has brought a positive change in the lives of thousands of Himachali women.

Himachal Pradesh government imposed ban on thermocol plates and other non-biodegradable plates and cutleries in May 2018. It created job opportunities for women SHGs. Artisans attached to SHGs started getting more orders to make these traditional leaf plates.

Speaking with Indian Masterminds he said, “This scheme is not only generating jobs and empowering the women, but also protecting the environment”. Sirmaur is the first district where SHG women were making donas and pattals by abdicating things made of plastic and thermocol.

IAS Lalit Jain

PATTAL PROJECT

When Mr Jain got posting in Sirmaur, local women were already making leaf utensils. The DC gave it impetus by introducing modern machines. He spotted a machine, which flattens a punctured-tyre by applying pressure. He thought that leaves can also be shaped by pressing with this machine. Then with a slight modification in thus machine, work on leaf plates started in full swing.

Mr Jain formed SHGs of unemployed women in rural areas and inspired women to make pattals and donas. Following his instructions, the District Rural Development Authority not only provided a machine to the SHGs but also trained them in using it. In July 2018 the Sal plate-making machine was installed in three blocks Nahan, Paonta Sahib, and Sangrah.

Mr Jain said, “This improvised machine costs around Rs 75,000. A pattal and dona is sold by these SHGs for Rs 5. Each SHG is earning a profit of approximately Rs 2.50 lakh per month.”

He also observed that people are increasingly less inclined to use plastic plates. People have been using the discarded and used leaf-plates as cattle feed.

Women making Pattals and Donas through machines

PAN-STATE

When Jain was appointed Director of Rural Development and Panchayats, he spread the initiative to entire state. He ensured that one such machine was installed in every village. Today there are more than 100 such machines in all the districts of the state.

“Now before giving environmental clearance to a company, we ask it to provide one such machine in the village where the project is coming up,” said the officer who as Director Environment decides environmental clearances.

AWARD

Mr Jain has been awarded the prestigious civil services award for empowering women. As Director Rural development, Mr Jain also continued with his focus on providing livelihood to rural women. Its impact was felt during the lockdown when women started making masks, PPE kits and sanitisers in various parts of Himachal Pradesh. The SHGs are believed to have earned Rs 40 lakhs by making leaf plates.

Women self help groups with a pattals

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