|Khoai in Shantiniketan|
(Picture from web)
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Here is an extract from the report by IIT:
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11.3 ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREA
Khoai area becomes an ecologically sensitive area because of its diverse landscape, soil-scape, wildlife and historical value. This area already has many desirable ecological, cultural, historical and environmental attributes. These attributes contribute to the retention and creation of wildlife habitat, soil stability, water retention or recharge, vegetative cover and similar vital ecological functions. The micro-ecosystem of Khoai has ability to cope with environmental stresses – stresses like various human induced developments and their impacts; future impacts due to climate change; essentially the ecological resilience. The Khoai not only have ecological importance but also it has a lot of historical, cultural and economic importance as it has relation with Nobel Laureates, painters, artists, writers and many scholars. As a tourist attraction, it also has economic importance. The importance of this area may be assessed by taking all available ecological and cultural attributes into account.
11.4 KHOAI - NATURAL AND CULTURAL HERITAGE
Khoai‘ word is derived from the Sanskrit ‗kshaya‘, meaning depleted/degenerated/ disfigured/denuded). It was used by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He has used this word many of his literary works. Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, father of Rabindranath Tagore found solace and serenity in this barren land and purchased a land to build a house. This house was built in the early 1860s, and named Santiniketan which later denoted the entire area. A beautiful garden was laid out on all sides of the house. The top-layer of gritty dry soil was removed and filled with rich soil brought from outside and trees were planted for fruit and shade. Change in the environment had begun. In 1901, Rabindranath started his Brahmacharya Asrama, "flanked by Sal Avenue on the south and Madhavi creepers canopy covering the entrance gate. To the east was an orchard of mango trees and to the west were a few Palmyra palms, jamun, casuarina and some coconut trees. On the north-western outskirt of the old Asrama were the two ancient Chhatim trees. This was the area which held the ‗ Khoai‘ lands. In the mid-fifties, to prevent further erosion of the Khoai, soil embankments were raised which thereby created little lakes of moderate size. The bending of the Mayurakshi River some distance on the north-west brought Santiniketan, a branch of an irrigation canal which lead to the greening of Khoai and brought about significant changes in the environment. An extensive forest was later created where deer graze. This land of Khoai has become immortalized by the writings of Tagore and the paintings of Ram Kinkar Baij and Nandalal Bose.