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Jhabua District

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Jhabua is a district located on the westernmost side of Madhya Pradesh. To the north is the district of Ratlam, while to the east is the district of Dhar. The west is bounded by the state of Gujarat. To the northwest is Rajasthan state. The south is mainly bounded by the state of Maharashtra, with the district of Barwani on the southeast part. The district has an area of 6,793 square kilometers, populated by some 1,394,561 people as of 2001. 91% of the population lives in the rural area while about 85.6% are tribal. The district is part of the Indore division and its administrative headquarters is the town of Jhabua.

The district’s topography is hilly, undulating in a typical fashion known locally as “Jhabua hills topography.” As a result, this undulating and uneven terrain does not lend itself to much agricultural productivity. In this type of topography, the difference between the highest and lowest points vary, usually averaging to about 20 to 50 meters. The difference, however, increases as one goes further south. The areas are almost entirely hilly, intersected by narrow valleys and low ranges covered by jungles, as common in Vindhayan topography. The south drains to the Narmada River.

The land is mostly erratic with low fertility, resulting in a lack of forest cover. The top soils are mostly light, with some patches of fertile, medium black variety. These are somewhat threatened by soil erosion and, with the failure of rains at times, can cause vegetation to become sparse. The underlying rock structure is mostly archaean igneous with some deccan trap basaltic and sedimentary formations. Due to the low permeability and porosity of the formations, the groundwater aquifers have poor retention capabilities, resulting in a severe lack of vegetation in most areas.

A big part of the economy is supported by various industries that have sprung up in the district. These range from chemical manufacturing plants to mineral grinding industries. Some of the companies include Apex Electricals Ltd, Raindrop Petrocom Industries and Natural Gold Cotton Industries.

There are two major tribes that inhabit the district: the Bhils and the Bhilalas. They used to practice shifting cultivation, hunting and gathering in the forests and lands that used to cover the terrain. However, after India’s independence, a land settlement process was developed that aims to stop shifting cultivation putting the tribals in a difficult position. Most of the population live below the poverty line but this hasn’t stopped them from reveling in their traditional festivities. The women of the tribe also make a living making handicrafts and ethnic items such as bamboo products, dolls, bead jewelries and other items that have adorned and decorated Indian homes all over the country. In fact, Jhabua is famous for its handicrafts.

Jhabua’s climate is generally moderate, with well-defined seasons. The average rainfall is about 800 mm, with most of it occurring during the monsoon season.

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