The other part is the Son valley, south of the Son river and housing the Singrauli and Duddhi. They are well known for natural resources and fertile land.
Till almost 10 years after Independence, this area (still a part of Mirzapur district) was secluded, without any means of transportation or communication. With the discovery of limestone and later coal in the hills, coupled with an abundance of water, this area became industrial heaven. It has some of the largest cement factories, power plants (both thermal and hydro), aluminium and chemical plants of the country. A large number of ancillary units and unorganised production centres, particularly stone crushing units have also come up.
While this industrial progress may be envy of any region, the original inhabitants have been marginalised and left to suffer on their fate. The area south to the Son river, where Banwasi Seva Ashram works, was covered by thick forests and abode to humans and wildlife. Despite being virtually cut off from the rest of the State, the situation used to worsen during the rains. The communities were happy and by and large self-sufficient.
Tribals and inhabitants were practising jhoom cultivation – they used to cultivate land for three years and leave the land follow for one year. The area also used to face drought every three years and famine almost every 10 years. Disputes between the Forest Department and locals were rising, leading the exploitation of every kind.
It is in this backdrop that Banwasi Seva Ashram was formed in 1954. The rest is history.