Gudha Bhagwandas village of Khimsar Tehsil, Nagaur district is 28 Km west of Nagaur on Nagaur-Phalodi road. As per census of 2001, the population of Gudha Bhagwandas and Khadkali is approximately 9000 of which about 20% belong to scheduled caste. The population of village is predominantly Hindu but there is sizable Muslim population. The Hindus includes numerous castes such as Jats, Rajput, Meghwal, Brahmin, Banias, Bhand, Sansi, Suthar, Teli, Bheel, Khatik, Shaad, Lohar.
The climate is arid truly characterized by low rainfall and high temperature in summer. The rainfall is around 300 mm which is mostly received during monsoon. The maximum temperature exceeds 47 degree celceus during peak summer and fall below 4 degree celcius during peak winter. The topography is dominated by undulating sand dunes but village has plain farms with soil of low carbon content and fertility. The soil is predominantly sandy loam. Ground water availability is poor and available water contains high total soluble salts and characterized by high pH. Main livelihood source is farming, but with shrinking land holdings farmers are turning as labourers. The village has large livestock population and farmers rear cows, goats, sheeps, camles, buffalos etc.
The Oran of Gudha Bhagwandas
The Oran of Gudha Bhagwandas can be defined as natural and community forest. This sacred groove was dedicated to Bhagwan Das Ji, the local Rajput warrior and Thakur. He proceeded to a war for the cause of farmers of the state just after his marriage even without seeing his bride. He went for the battle expedition just after the return of his baarat on the call of state. He fought gallantly even after he was beheaded. His horse brought his body to the village. Hence, the village Altava was renamed after him to be called as Gudha Bhagwandas and an Oran of approximately 2000 Acres was dedicated in his name by the local Thakur rulers who owned it till independence. The Oran is named as DADOSA Maharaj ka Oran and is house of Dados ka Thada (Temple). Villagers were allowed to meet their basic needs like fuel wood, grass, fruits etc. from this but commercial use was strictly prohibited. It belonged to the villagers, but they were not allowed to destroy the forest.
The Oran is characterized by scrubbed jungle and the existing vegetation is typical of arid zone. It is mostly herbaceous or stunted scrubs. Khejari (Prosopis Cineraria) tree are available throughout and is abundant and dominate the tree population. Ber (Ziziphus Jujuba), Ker Capparis Deciduas), Jaal (SalvaoraOleodis), Babool (Acacia Tortolis/VachelliaTortillis), Neem (Azadirachte Indica), Keekar (Acacia Jaquemontil), Rohida (Tecomella Undulata), Aak (Calotropis Procera), Phog, Kumat (Acacia Senegal) are another economically useful trees growing in the Oran. Grasses form the main natural resource of the Oran but perennial grasses like Seman (Stylo Hemitis), Dhaman etc. are almost vanished. Hiran (Deer), Rabbits, Nilgai, blackbuck and Chinkara, Fox, Snakes, Rats, Sewi (Thorney..) form part of diverse wild life. Beside local birds such as peacock, Geri, Pegion, Crows, Bulbul, Teetar, Eagle etc. it is also the home for several migratory birds. Vultures have almost disappeared.
The Oran hass large water shed and serves as catchment for four Nadis (Water bodies) which meet the drinking water needs of the villagers. There is substantial degradation of the water shed due to infrastructure development such as roads, water supply house, shops, bus stand, schools, electricity supply lines etc.
It is important to mention here that despite launch of so many programs by Central and Rajasthan governments such as Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP), 1991; Drought Prone Area Development Programme (DPAP), 1974-75; and Desert Development Programme (DDP) 1977-78, which were implemented to conserve and develop village commons, nothing helped to prevent the Oran of Gudha Bhagwandas from degradation. The Oran’s resource conservation sustained only because of the community’s awareness of their importance and livelihood dependence on these resources as well as religious sentiment and belief. After Independence, the jagirdari system was abolished and the ownership of Oran land vested in the revenue department which is unable to manage it properly leaving it to the dictums of gram panchayats. Gradually, illicit felling in trees has become common. Traditional systems of social fencing have also broken down as the faith systems of younger generations changed.
Role of Oran in village
For villagers of Gudha Bhagwandas, Khadkali, Galni etc where water is scarce for drinking, farming and animal husbandry purposes, the Oran plays a very important role as it protect water sheds and four water bodies. Beside water it also provide grazing land for animals and source of fuel wood, grass/fodder and fruits. Most importantly, it has conserved the bio-diversity for centuries. The Oran has also played significant role in checking the soil erosion in and around the village which is a serious problem in summer due to high wind speed.
Although, the villagers were aware from very early times that the nature must be harnessed within the limits but for various reasons there is over exploitation in recent times resulting in to degradation of the Oran. The degradation of Oran in the recent past at a faster pace is also linked to the degradation of moral values.
Former Director General of Meteorology
PR of India with World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
Vice Chair, Inter-Governmental Board for Climate Service, United Nations
Member Executive Council, WMO, United nations
Advisor, National Disaster Management Authority (GOI)