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Remote Odisha village with 90% addiction 3 years ago wins national award for prevention of alcohol abuse

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, June 26, 2018: Lariapalli, a small tribal village in Odisha which once had an addiction rate of 90 per cent, on Tuesday received a National Award for outstanding services in the field of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse, 2018 from President Ram Nath Kovind.

Kovidn was presenting awards on the occasion of the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Over the last three years, this Gram Panchayat that used to consume 240 liters of alcohol per day has now become a no alcohol region, thanks to the concerted efforts made through a partnership program between The Art of Living and The Government of Odisha.

Owing to persistent efforts in community mobilization, awareness drives and behavioral training workshops organized and led by The Art of Living volunteers under the leadership of Bhola Nath, director, Art of Living, Social Causes, with the support of the head of the Gram Panchayat Shukru Kujur and Odisha Government, that brought large scale attitudinal shifts in this particular village.

In a letter recommending this Gram Panchayat for the National Awards, the Odisha Government detailed the innovative approach that helped make this area completely addiction-free, and said it was the emphasis on bringing behavioral changes through the means of Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation with the help of The Art of Living’s Vyakti Vikas Kendra, making it a truly community driven program, that led to this success.

Uniquely, before starting off with the community mobilization drive, a key aspect of the transformation process, Bhola Nath also led 50 village locals, including Sarpanch of Lariapalli, Shukri Kujur through a transformative community empowerment workshop called the Youth Leadership Training Program. After going through the program, Kujur passionately got involved in making the village addiction free.

The Art of Living conducted ethical and motivational training of these volunteers to become development agents for bringing about positive attitudinal change in the tribal population. The extent of alcohol consumption was 2.40 quintal/day in the 9 revenue villages and 3 hamlets of the Lariapalli G.P according to Excise Department information. Now it has reduced to zero.

There were six excise cases of illicit selling of country liquor in the year 2016-17, which have come down to three cases in 2017-18 and so far Nil during this year.

After the liquor shops being shut down and those running illicit liquor businesses and those working there have been brought into work under MGNREGS engagement, particularly in developing water harvest structures and irrigation for agriculture including horticultural plantations, gainfully employing them.

Through door-to-door survey the volunteers continue to identify regular addicts and work towards bringing them out of the addictions by providing them social engagement and spiritual tools to manage their addictions.

With awareness drives, and The Art of Living’s behavioral change programs like Youth Leadership Training Program, the GP managed to curb the demand side, and imposed heavy fines on people caught selling alcohol to curb the supply side of this industry.

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