If books grew on trees, anybody could pluck and read them. But since they don’t and since books have a price, it is difficult to read as much as one wants. The onslaught of internet has also damaged reading habits in people. But one Maharashtra village has come up with a novel idea to encourage people to read and not worry about their price.
But inspired by Britain’s Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town known for its book stores and literature festivals, a village in Satara ( Maharashtra) is being turned into India’s first ‘Books Village’ from May 4.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will inaugurate this state government initiative on May 4.
Bhilar is bang in the middle of strawberry country. Located near the picturesque hill stations of Panchghani and Mahabaleshwar, Bhilar hopes to attract tourists to visit the village and browse through books and periodicals and even borrow them for a nominal fee.
Bhilar, with a population of about 10,000, and nearby areas produce around 100 tonnes of strawberry every year, earning them Rs 50 crore. And 90% of the village’s population is involved in strawberry farming.
Led by Education minister Vinod Tawde, this project was undertaken by the Marathi Bhasha department wherein 25 artistically decorated locations around the village will turn into reader hot spots with display of books ranging from literature, poetry, religion, women and children, history, environment, folk literature, biographies and autobiographies to festival specials.
"Around 15,000 books (in Marathi) would be made available in the village premises. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will inaugurate the initiative Pustakanche Gaon on May 4," Tawde told reporters on Friday. Books in Hindi and English will be added later.
Also, the state has provided several facilities such as chairs, tables, decorated umbrellas and glass cupboards to local villagers to help them enhance the reading experience of literary connoisseurs visiting there.
The state government had announced its plans to launch such a book village and literary festivals concept in Maharashtra two years ago on February 27, 2015 - Marathi Language Day.
Books are going to be available free of cost, said the state education minister.
Anybody can pick up a book of his/her choice, read for as long as they want and keep it back for others, he added.
The minister said that the government is also planning to hold literary festivals in the village in the summer as a lot of tourists visit Panchghani and neighbouring destinations on vacation.