|Swaraj National Convenor Mr. Kumar Kalanand Mani deliberating his views in 4th annual convention of Ganga Consortium in Bihar.
Ganga Consortium working for environmental balance and retention of natural resources in hands of the village community through the gram sabha is active in Bhagalpur and Banka Districts of Bihar on the banks of the river. Till the end of the II-phase, the issues in the Ganga region were being addressed through programmes within the framework of Swaraj Bihar. But taking into consideration the nature of the work and the activeness of the colleagues there, it was decided to give it an independent status. Therefore, in the III-phase the Ganga region was recognised as a separate programme area. Provisions were made for additional fellows to work in this area. The Ganga Consortium was formally constituted in January 2000.
The PSP process was carried out in the Ganga region as part of the Bihar state unit. It was undertaken in 160 villages located in 17 clusters. 11 organisations, institutions and fellows assisted in the PSP process. However, many of the organisations and individuals actively involved with the issues in the region since its inception left the consortium for various reasons. Therefore the entire process in the region had to be reactivated. Village and cluster committees had to be strengthened and reconstituted in some places. It was decided to hold regular meetings and workshops at the cluster and village level and evolve working plans based on the VMRSP.
At present 6 fellows are working in the consortium. The work is confined to 7 clusters. Out of the total 60 villages being covered in the region, intensive work is carried out in 30 villages of the fellows and the remaining 30 are contact villages. Besides the problems faced by the community in the region due to floods, displacement, and environmental degradation other relevant issues such as lack of education, poor health and sickness, rights and provisions under the new panchayat rule, gender equality and women’s empowerment are being taken up.
From the PSP processes, the following Strategic Thrusts were derived: –
1. Campaign to oppose the New Economic Policy and the pressures in this regard by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Multi-National Agencies;
2. Empowering the people for Self-Rule;
3. Strengthening the capabilities of women, adivasis, dalits and minorities to enable to grasp and implement self-processes;
4. Empowering women to attain gender equality;
5. Communal harmony and
6. Re-establishing rich cultural traditions
AREA OF OPERATION
INTERVENTIONS, IMPACT AND ISSUES
– 60 SHGs formed.
– Gram samiti constituted in 60 villages.
– Vriksha Mitra Samitis formed to protect the existing trees and plant new ones. More than 4000 fruit bearing and fuel wood trees have been planted.
– Nursery raising taken up in collaboration with the forest department.
– The fellows with the active participation of youth groups, SHG members, village panchayats and school students have taken up a campaign to eliminate mosquitoes and flies – machchhar makkhi maro abhiyan. This has increased awareness levels and improved the general hygiene in the villages.
– Periodical training and workshops organised for women on various issues such as the aim and purpose of forming SHGs, accounts keeping, rights of women, government schemes/ programmes for women etc.
– Capacitation programme for fellows, cluster level and village committee members etc.
– 300 tussar producing farmers are trained in silk production and organised.
– Awareness on PRIs increased due to regular meetings and workshops.
– Due to organised efforts by the local community the local NTPC unit now treats effluents before releasing them in to the river. This has reduced water pollution to an extent.