‘Vanarai’ was formed by Padma Vibhushan Dr. Mohan Dharia in the year 1982. Soon after, in 1986, it was registered under the Charitable Trust Act. Vanarai is a people’s movement, implementing core reforms in afforestation, rural self-reliance, sustainability, community mobilization, rural-urban association, and women’s empowerment. Conservation and development of natural resources through scientific research and sustainable technology, with an emphasis on community participation, is the crux of Vanarai’s work.
       During last three decades,Vanarai has reached all parts of Maharashtra and other states too. It is now recognized as one of the leading voluntary organizations both at the state and national levels. Vanarai has been instrumental in changing and reforming government policies for sustainable development through community effort and involvement. VANARAI has so far successfully made several strides at policy and grass root levels.

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Rural Development
            Today, Vanarai is working in more than 250 villages, with the purpose of making them self-reliant by mobilizing local leadership, sensitizing the community, and encouraging people’s participation through training and awareness camps. This collective effort has rendered 90,000 hectares of wasteland productive, and has united more than 1, 85, 314 villagers throughout Maharashtra. Through Vanarai’s facilitation, the rural community in Maharashtra, under the leadership of Gram Panchayats and affiliated NGOs, has planted more than 20 million plants of various species.
Water Conservation
            Maharashtra is a drought-prone state, and its villages are at nature’s behest when it comes to water. Vanarai’s water conservation activities, through Vanarai Bunds, C.C.T.(Continuous Counter Trenches),C.N.B(Cement NALLA Bunds), loose boulder constructions, etc.are carried out regularly.
Vanarai bunds are innovative, cost-effective and sustainable structures, constructed easily and requiring no material except empty cement bags- which are recycled effectively in this process. They have been a huge, nation-wide success, and are used all over the country for water harvesting and conservation.

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  1. C. T(Continuous Counter Trenches)
Contour trenches are used both on hill slopes, degraded and barren waste lands for soil and moisture conservation and afforestation purposes. The trenches break the slope and reduce the velocity of surface runoff. CCT can be used in all slopes irrespective of rainfall conditions, varying soil types and depths. Trenches can be continuous or interrupted. The interrupted ones can be in series or staggered, continuous onesare used for moisture conservation in low rainfall areas and require careful layout.
Contour trenches specifically help control flooding and capture water from floods. If rain event is expected to be massive, plant vegetation along the outer edge of the contour to stabilize the trenches and prevent erosion.
Vanarai has been constantly carrying activities for CCT and has covered around 1539 hectares of land and conserved up to 1732.50* litres (In Crore) of water.
  1. N. B (Cement Nalla Bund)
Nalla Bunds are embankments constructed across nalla for checking velocity of runoff, increasing water percolation and improving soil moisture regime. Main objectives of nalla bunding are to impound surface runoff coming from for catchments and to facilitate percolation of stored water into soil sub strata with a view to raise ground water level in the zone of influence of nalla bund and to hold the silt flow which would otherwise reach the multipurpose reservoirs downstream and reduce their useful life.
Vanarai has constructed over 64 Nalla Bunds which store around 8.51 Litres (Crore) of Water.
Loose Boulder Constructions
Villagers in drought-prone regions are often compelled to pool in their funds and purchase water in tankers from private entities- a costly and difficult undertaking which they can ill afford. Vanarai’s simple and effective methods of water conservation have made several villages tanker-free and self-sufficient, liberating thousands of villagers from the economically and mentally draining task of procuring water in drought conditions.
The Government of India has awarded Vanarai the “Ground Water Augmentation Award” for adopting innovative practice of groundwater augmentation through rain water harvesting and artificial recharge.  
 

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Joint Forestry Management
The National Wastelands Development Board of the Central Government accepted the proposal of Dr. Dharia for Joint Forestry Management (JFM) in the year 1992. Despite illegal cutting of the trees, this has resulted in bringing 17.32 million hectares under additional green cover in 1, 64, 063 villages in the country during the last thirteen years. More than 900000 (Nine Lakh) Adivasi families have been earning better incomes. Vanarai foundation has been instrumental for such policy changes and mobilizing people for implementing various programs including afforestation.
Health and Sanitation
            In recent years, after observing the alarming drop-out rate of girl students from secondary-level schools due to the lack of sanitation facilities, Vanarai has laid special emphasis on improving health and hygiene facilities in the villages. Along with conducting awareness camps, we have also constructed individual toilet structures, as well as toilets and sanitation infrastructure for high-school girls. Due to these activities, the dropout rate of school going girls has gone down from 60% to 26% in 11 villages.
Moreover, the bi-annual health camps conducted in all of our villages have received a tremendous response, having reached more that 25, 000 people.

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Community Mobilization
Vanarai has always believed in the tenet of self-sufficiency. We have giventop priority to skill development, organizing Self Help Groups, and activities aimed to improve the economic conditions of both individuals and the village community. For this purpose, we have established 13 Vanarai Training Centres across the state, placed at strategic locations, in order to have the widest reach possible.
Eco-Clubs
Children are a source of inspiration and a mine of untapped potential. Recognizing the need to instill the principles of sustainability and self-reliance in young minds, we have formed Eco-clubs in more than 1800 schools spread over Maharashtra. Nearly 1,50,000 school students are involved in nature conservation and tree plantation camps through these Eco-clubs. The annual state-wide drawing and essay competitions, along with cultural programmes and environmental skits, are a source of joy and for both Vanarai and its young companions. We continue to be inspired by the enterprise and grit displayed by our youngsters, year in and year out.
 

Publications
            Vanarai publishes a monthly magazine devoted to specific subjects in the fields of environment, sustainability and rural development. It has been the recipient of many prestigious awards on national and international platforms. Vanarai magazine has received its International Standard Serial Number (ISSN 2250-1215). A special Diwali issue, published annually, is widely acknowledged by policy-makers, academics, scientists, and village communities as a value addition to Indian environmental research and literature.

Reverse Migration
migration is a concept developed by our founder-President, Dr. Mohan Dharia. Based on Gandhian philosophy and core principles of economics and civic sustainability, it envisions self-reliant and flourishing villages with thriving communities, wherein individuals shall not be obliged to leave their homes in search of their rightful opportunities. More than 250 families across Maharashtra, formerly having moved to urban areas in search of employment, have returned to their homes and engaged themselves in gainful work, as a result of all the above activities. Vanarai aims, through all these activities, to shift the rural-urban power structure and create the equilibrium necessary for conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Vision –
To be a leader in creating a sustainable model for Integrated Rural Development, Plantation, and Reverse Migration by facilitating people’s participation at the grass root level.
 
  • Mission –
To empower rural India by way of integrated sustainable rural development and enhancement of socio-economic activities at grassroots level. We work to achieve reverse migration through all round development of villages. We are committed for the development of waste lands and to make every inch of land productive. —– CHANGE!!
 

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