Rotary Club of Pune Sports City, RID 3131, provided solar lanterns to light up the tents of the Dhangars, a nomadic community of shepherds who roam around the hilly grassland of the Saswad region near Pune.
They are basically from south Maharashtra and reside here for four months during the monsoons letting their cattle graze on the grass and then migrate to the Konkan region during summer. The local landlords allow free grazing and camping for them in exchange for the cattle droppings that serve as organic manure. The weeds on the land also serve as fodder for the cattle.
Plastic sheets serve as tents to protect them and their meagre belongings. “Oil lamps were being used to light up their ‘homes’. They eke out a living selling milk and other cattle produce and the oil cost cuts a huge hole in their pockets,” says club member Sandesh Savant. These solar lanterns will save them fuel costs and safeguard them from wild animals such as wolves, hyena and reptiles.
The Grassland Trust run by about 100 young volunteers alerted the club about this urgent need of the Dhangars and helped in distributing the lanterns. In the next phase the club plans to provide lanterns to the Pardhis, another nomadic tribe near Morgaon in Pune.