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How life has changed for the women who used to sell country brews in Bihar

 
By Manoj Pathak
Patna, Jan 9 (IANS) The Bihar government's 'Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana' (Sustainable Livelihood Scheme), which empowers poor households, traditionally engaged in production and selling of country liquor/toddy through diversification of livelihoods and improved access to finance, has changed the lives of many women in the state.


Nagia Devi, resident of the Vikrampur village in Gopalganj district, was left penniless after her husband, who sold country liquor illegally, died in a road accident and alcohol was banned in the state soon after.

However, the mother of five daughters did not lose hope and opened a shop through financial assistance provided by the state government through 'Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana'.

Today, Nagia owns a shop, four flour mills, and is also rearing a buffalo and a cow. Talking to IANS, she said: Earlier, we had money but our source of income was not something to be proud of. Also, that business was very fickle and did not ensure security of my children's future. Today I have Rs 4 lakh in the bank."

There are 595 such women in Gopalganj and 886 in Purnia district who have turned their lives around with the help of the Sustainable Livelihood Scheme. Some of them own cosmetic shops and some grocery stores.

Ajay Rao, the Nodal Officer of Gopalganj district sustainable livelihood, told IANS: "The prohibition of liquor in the state made women's lives easier. A total of 2,317 families in the district have been provided loans under this scheme. Around Rs 37,000 have been given to each woman in different phases.

He further added: "There are 89 such women who have left the business of liquor and 509 women have taken loan from this scheme and have started their business, as per the need of their village."

A woman from a village in Dhamdaha block of Purnia, said: "When I was in the liquor business, people came to my house and molested not only me but also my daughters and daughters-in-law. Me and my husband couldn't stop them. But today we lead a good and decent life."

Sangeeta Devi, a resident of Andi Tola of Dhamdaha block in Purnia, said: "Erlier when I sold liquor, I earned good profits every year. But after the prohibition of liquor in the state, I did not have money to put food in the plate. After this, I opened a shop by taking loan under the Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana and with Rs 1,500 a month, now I can again feed my family."

According to an official of Purnia, 143 women in the district have given up liquor business and 743 have quit selling toddy

Even though, the opposition had initially criticised the state government for banning liquor in the state, they have been silenced by the improvement made in the villages through the Satat Jeevikoparjan Yojana, the official added.

--IANS
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