Established in 2005 by visionary Sankar Halder and a few energetic young thought leaders of Sundarbans, MUKTI stands as a beacon of transformative change in the Sundarbans and West Bengal, epitomizing holistic community development. Pioneering programs spanning Health, Education, Agriculture, Livelihood, Environment, Rights & awareness, Disaster recovery and Integrated development, have catalyzed substantial impact, uplifting over 10 lakh beneficiaries annually. Against the backdrop of climate-induced vulnerabilities in the Sundarbans, MUKTI’s interventions, marked by mangrove preservation and sustainable agriculture, have garnered national acclaim. Named India’s premier NGO for climate-resilient sustainable agriculture, MUKTI’s response to the Covid-19 crisis showcased resilience. Through strategic alliances, technology integration, and community empowerment, MUKTI transcends challenges, fostering success stories like Nandini, Hargopal Dutta, and Anjana, thus embodying a global paradigm for sustainable and inclusive development.
In the vast expanse of the Sundarbans, a region intricately woven with mangroves along the Ganges delta, the reverberations of climate change are acutely felt. The relentless onslaught of cyclones, the inexorable rise of sea levels, and encroachment by human activities have triggered a cascade of disruptions, wreaking havoc on fragile ecosystems and devastating human settlements and livelihoods. In the midst of this unfolding environmental crisis, the organization, MUKTI, has emerged as a formidable force committed to sustainable development and environmental conservation.
MUKTI’s multifaceted programs, executed with the expertise of industry thought leaders, committed professionals, subject-matter specialists, and dedicated volunteers, extend across various domains, leaving an indelible impact on the lives of over 10 lakh beneficiaries annually. The organization’s community-centric participatory approach is exemplified by its emphasis on empowering women leaders through the establishment of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and capacity-building initiatives.
At the heart of MUKTI’s strategy lies a holistic model of environmental conservation, with a focus on mangrove plantations to fortify embankments as a green defensive layer. The organization is a stalwart advocate for biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture, and agroforestry, addressing both ecological and human dimensions of the challenges faced by the Sundarbans. A staggering accomplishment of 6mn mangrove plants, 5 lakh vetiver grass, protection of 10 km of river embankment, and the planting of 30 thousand dragon trees underscores the tangible impact of MUKTI’s environmental initiatives.
Beyond these remarkable numbers, MUKTI’s initiatives echo the harmonious integration of environmental sustainability with community development. The organization’s commitment goes beyond protecting the natural landscape; it extends to fostering resilience and prosperity among the inhabitants of the Sundarbans. Approximately 20 thousand women from Self-Help Groups have directly benefited from MUKTI’s interventions, marking a transformative shift in their lives and communities.
MUKTI’s endeavors during the Covid-19 pandemic serve as a testament to its unwavering dedication. The organization’s extensive work not only saved hundreds of lives but also spotlighted the critical role it plays in times of crisis. Subsequently, MUKTI intensified its efforts towards environmental sustainability in the Sundarbans, recognizing the intrinsic link between a healthy environment and the well-being of its inhabitants from a holistic perspective of life. MUKTI’s educational initiatives are meticulously designed to offer a comprehensive learning experience, encompassing not only academic support but also extending to yoga, imparting values, and nurturing vocational skills to enhance the employability of underprivileged students in the Sundarbans. These projects collectively cater to the diverse needs of students, ensuring a well-rounded education that goes beyond conventional studies. Annually, over 5000 students reap the benefits of these varied educational programs, marking a significant impact on their academic journey and future prospects.
In the recent past, MUKTI garnered prestigious recognition as India’s top NGO from ICC (Indian Chamber of Commerce) and FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) for climate-resilient sustainable agriculture and organic farming, a testament to its pioneering efforts in balancing environmental conservation with agricultural practices. Ankita Kothiyal, a representative of MUKTI, emphasizes the significance of continuous community engagement, education & right-based awareness programs, and strategic partnerships in addressing conservation mindset challenges. The seamless integration of modern technologies ensures MUKTI’s real-time adaptability to the ever-evolving conditions of the Sundarbans, thus promoting the holistic and integrated development of society. In 2022, MUKTI’s global recognition for its commendable efforts was underscored by the attainment of consultative status with the United Nations, affirming the organization’s impactful contributions on an international scale.
The resilience of MUKTI’s environmental projects lies in their evolution alongside community support, strategic alliances, and innovative solutions. Beyond statistics and accolades, MUKTI’s impact is best illustrated through the narratives of individuals like Nandini, who, having experienced MUKTI’s transformative initiatives, now serves as a “Food Processing” Trainer at the Rural Self Employment Training Institute in South Twenty-four Parganas District.
The collaboration between MUKTI and Coal India in the ‘Chick Rearing for Marginalized Women’ program has empowered hundreds of women, showcasing the tangible outcomes of MUKTI’s commitment to uplifting marginalized communities. Hargopal Dutta, an alumnus of the Talented Student Sponsorship program, has realized his dream of becoming a scientist (horticulturist) at the Central TASAR Research and Training Institute in Ranchi. His vision includes assisting farmers with advanced cultivation techniques and superior seed varieties, embodying MUKTI’s ethos of fostering sustainable practices.
Similarly, Anjana’s journey, nurtured through MUKTI’s women empowerment program, showcases the transformative power of skill development. From learning the art of doll-making to successfully selling her handcrafted creations at fairs and markets, Anjana has illuminated the path to a brighter future for her family.
In the intricate tapestry of MUKTI’s initiatives, environmental sustainability is not merely a component but a guiding principle that weaves through every program and intervention. The organization’s work stands as a testament to the profound impact that can be achieved when environmental conservation and community development are seamlessly intertwined. MUKTI’s story, echoing through the Sundarbans and beyond, is a compelling narrative of resilience, innovation, and the unwavering pursuit of a harmonious coexistence between humanity and the natural world. To learn more about MUKTI, you may wish to visit their website www.muktiweb.org.