Under-developed regions in Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra; particularly from Akole and Sangamner tehsils has been selected as project area. In the year 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt. of India; named Ahmednagar as one of the 250 most backward districts (out of total of 640) in India. It was one of the twelve (12) districts in the state of Maharashtra receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Program (BRGF) *
(*Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Govt of India (September 8th, 2009); “A note on the Backward Regions Grant Fund Program” National Institute of Rural, Development; September 27th, 2011.)
Total area of the district is 14,713 sq km, which comprises of about 1500 to 1600 villages and 18 cities. Total population of the district is around 40 L, out of which only 20% is the urban and remaining 80% is rural. As per Census 2001 the literacy rate is 64%. Per capita income of the district is about Rs. 47,000/- **
(**District Socio-Economic Report, for Ahmednagar District (March 2010) by Directorate of Economic and Statistics, Govt of Maharashtra.)
Sangamner city in Sangamner tehsil is the most developed city as compared to other regions. It is situated on the bank of Pravara River. The region is known for the confluence (Sangam) of three rivers Pravara, Mhalungi, and Mahanuti and named as Sangamner. Total number of villages in tehsil is 169. It is famous for cloth market, educational facilities, sugar factory, agriculture, and tobacco products. It may be noted that Asia’s First Co-operative Sugar Factory is started in Sangamner tehsil at Pravaranagar.
It is also the second-largest city by population in Ahmednagar District, after Ahmednagar City. Sangamner is the biggest settlement on National Highway-50 between Pune and Nashik. Sangamner is located at 143 km from Pune.
It is a tribal area and one of the most backward regions in Ahmednagar district. It is surrounded by the mountain ranges of Deccan Trap. The region has historical as well as geographical importance. Total area of the tehsil is around 1500 sq km. 27-30% of the region boasts of forest cover. Number of villages in tehsil is 191. 80-90% population in the region is dependent on agriculture. Research and Development at various levels and in various sectors are being carried out by national and international institutions. Kalsubai-Harischandragad Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS) is a reserved situated in the region. It is a well known wild life sanctuary and is recognized as one of the hot spots in India. Lot of area in this forest region is yet unexplored and it is said that a number of medicinal plants species are being preserved because of this forest. Some of the key features and locations in the region are as follows:
- Bhandardhara Dam or Wilson Dam constructed across the Pravara River. It is one of the few dams which is completely Built in Lead.
- Kalsubai is the highest Peak in Maharashtra (1646 m) in Sahyadri Range which is located in Akole Tehsil.
- Ambika Temple is one of the beautiful temples in this region having resemblance to the temple of Khajuraho.
- Various forts situated here like Harishchandragad, Ratangad have great historical importance.