Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has launched country’s first ‘Pustakanche Gaon’ (village of books) in Bhilar, which is situated between Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani in the Satara district, an Indian Express report said. State Culture Minister Vinod Tawade promoted the project and was proposed by two years ago – villagers are hoping to increase their income through the project. The area already has quite a few tourists streaming in and the new concept is expected to act as a value-add and even boost tourism further.
“The first phase will see 15,000 Marathi books being placed in 25 establishments,” Tawade was quoted as saying by Indian Express. As per the report, places near popular tourist spots were selected to ensure more and more people turn up. As many as 25 spots have been turned into free libraries, which include two temples, two schools, 10 lodges, with the rest being homes of individuals.
The paper also quoted Sashikant Bhilare, whose residence will house 650 books, as saying that villagers hope this measure will help them raise their income. “Tourist footfall will certainly increase because of this. Our village has 25-30 hotels and lodges and we hope other tourism-related businesses will also thrive,” he told the paper.
For villagers in Bhilar, strawberry farming has been the main source of income traditionally, which has more than 800 acres of berry farms. “We hope that the tourist influx will help us discover a new market for our produce,” Bhilare added.
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Even as books will be lent for free, villagers are ready to provide refreshments at a price. The report added that setting up of bed and breakfast units are also in the pipeline. Bhilare added that villagers have been trained in basic hospitality etiquette and keeping of records for maintaining the free libraries.