A light meal at Machan can light up several lives
Taj Safaris and &Beyond have recently launched the Machan Fund-Raising Programme and LPG Gas Connections Programme. Through these responsible tourism projects their mission is to improve the quality of life of the native and economically deprived communities surrounding their four lodges - Pashan Garh, Mahua Kothi, Banjaar Tola and Baghvan - located in the heart of India. The ultimate objective is to foster social welfare and preserve natural resources by promoting a responsible ecotourism model whilst fully engaging the lodges' guests with community life.
All the Taj Safaris' responsible tourism activities are carried out with a view to drastically reducing the dependence of local communities on forest and obsolete fuels which pose life-threatening risks. 'The Machan' at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi is a favourite eatery among hotel guests and locals and has created a 'Taj Safaris' section in the menu promoting regional recipes and food from the villages around the lodges. 10% of all revenues earned from the Taj Safaris menu will subsidise LPG Gas Connections to the lodges' local communities.
The implementation of LPG Gas Connections Programme has multiple benefits. Previously, villagers residing near the jungle lodges relied solely on collecting firewood for energy supplies. This programme prevents the villagers from venturing into the forest to collect wood and run the risk of being attacked by wildlife. Secondly, deforestation is strongly reduced.
From training to healthcare: Taj Safaris community initiatives
Taj Safaris' engagement in the wellbeing of its neighbouring community encompasses a plethora of fields and is aimed at empowering people to become more self-reliant. Creating income generation opportunities through responsible tourism programmes is key, leading to initiatives from community development to education, environmental training and healthcare. Taj Safaris' involvement starts by purchasing produce from local farmers which is then served in the lodges and is greatly beneficial to the local economy. It then goes further to distributing vegetable seeds to villages so that they can grow their own food. What is striking is Taj Safaris' commitment to teaching villagers farming techniques to encourage development: this increases the great sense of bonding between the lodges and the locals. Health and nutritional support is also provided to more than 100 children with the supply of dry nutrition supplements on a regular basis.
Creating opportunities for self sustainability
Training plays a key role in these responsible tourism projects. The Executive Chefs at Taj Safaris help local women to develop skills in kitchen gardening, cooking hygiene and food diversity. The lodges have also contributed to the purchase of sewing machines and computers to be used for development programmes run by qualified local people. This will give trainees a unique opportunity to broaden their horizons and make a sustainable living. The team at Banjaar Tola Kanha Tented Camp have been involved in training locals on eco-friendly honey harvesting techniques, leading to benefits of livelihood development and biodiversity. Similarly, Mahua Kothi has recently launched a Conservation Lesson Programme, run by the Lodge's naturalist experts, to teach children from the local community about wildlife.