Centres in Bandora, Cotigaon and Pedne.
The initial programmatic thrust of Peaceful Society (PS) was rural development with more focus on women, children, small farmers. The PS gained primary exposures and needed experiences of undertaking developmental activities from two years work of providing additional income generating opportunity to 20 women in Banodra in 1985-86.
While implementing the WEP project in Bandora, the PS decided to expand its wings into other remote area of Goa. In this regards a small support from Gandhi Peace Centre, Hyderabad under Disposition Funds becomes very useful. 4 more villages in 4 different taluka were identified by the executive committee to work in active association with board members. These were Deusu-Korgaon of Pedne, Maulinge – Kudchire of Bicholim, Cumbharjuve of Tiswadi and Cotigaon of Cancona taluka of Goa. The processes like Bandora was adopted here of conducting socio economic survey to decide short and long term activities. The survey part was completed in all above mentioned 4 villages. However, post survey processes were undertaken only in Deusu – Korgaon and Cotigaon.
The Package Programme:
On the basis of experiences gained from WEP programme and outcome of survey done in Korgaon and Cotigaon, a project under Package Programme of GPC-EZE was prepared for fincnancial support.
The PS IRDP (integrated Rural Development Programme) was implemented in collaboration with Gandhi Peace Centre, Hyderabad with support from EZE(Protest Association for Development) Bonn, West Germany in 2 phases, PP III ( 1987-1989) PP-V (1990-95) The project objectives were threefold:
- Livelihood enhancement of poor and marginal farmers through setting up service centres (Agro Centres) to provide services in agriculture and animal husbandry. The objectives were to increase productivity in these sectors as well as provide income-generating opportunities, both on-farm and off farm for these families.
- Mobilizing the community and creating an overall awareness towards social reconstruction. This was through activities in the health and education sectors.
- Women’s Development through training for economic skills and opportunities for employment.
The project was implemented in three of the original five villages, with Agro Centres opened in Deusu Korgaon and in Cotigaon, while the WEP activities were continued in Bandora.
The GPC-EZE package programme 2nd phase had ensured the continuity of activities undertaken during 1st phase with following learnigs and objectives; The work continued with expanded scope of activities and an increased geographical range. The project objectives were also modified based on the learning, both of the earlier development work as well as the experience of organizing communities around issues in the campaigns. The new approach was:
- Agricultural development was seen not only in the context of economic self-reliance but also in the context of ecological balance. As a result there was an increased emphasis on sustainable agricultural systems and in particular on organic farming. PS took it as challenge and started various experiment on organic farming in its campus.
- The social reconstruction goal was possible only if there is a cadre of committed persons in the community, committed not just to short-term project activities but to broad based civil society associations through setting up autonomous institutions with strong and committed leadership. This insight would take full shape in and through the Swaraj Movement.
- Women’s. Self-reliance is not just an output of the project activities but must be an integral aspect in the very process. As a result, the practice of free services was discouraged and eventually discontinued and participants were motivated to pay fees for the services accessed.
THE COTIGAON EXPERIMENTS & EXPERIENCE
After putting its legs firmly in Bandora, PS opened its centre in Cotigaon of Cancona taluka and Deusu-Korgaon of Pedne taluka to implement GPC-EZE package programme designed on the basis of outcome of survey conducted in Bandora, Cotigao and Korgaon. Cotigaon was 80 kms south from Banodra, the registered office of PS and Deusu – Korgaon was about 70 kms in north.
Cotigaon was remote and relatively under-developed even as compared to the other areas in Goa. The inhabitants were almost entirely adivasis besides few hindu middle and upper caste population in one wada of Cotigaon. The village had no pucca road and was rich in bio-diversity. Adivasi were quite content with the life they were living. Only one private bus was playing in mid of 80s. There were no liquor shop, no market, no shop in entire Panchayat area in mid 80s. The entry points were the house-to-house survey in 1985 and opening of two Balwadi then the project work in 1986. PS introduced agricultural service activities and enhancing the skills of women for additional income generation. However while doing so and even during survey time there were two common problem which entire Panchayat area was facing and population was looking at PS to resolve it. One was possible displacement of entire population from major parts of Panchayat area due to proposed Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS) and having no drinking water. The life was quite hard and harsh due to severe water shortage. Therefore henceforth PS activities were focus on addressing these two primary issues of the Panchayat area.
THE VANVASI SANGATHAN
Fight against displacement
Kumar Kalanand Mani along with PS centre in Cotigaon and Adivasi leaders started mobilizing affected population and others who were sympathetic with the issue. Only few families of upper caste Hindu were favouring displacement in hidden way and whole population of entire village Panchayat area were against. After holding series of meetings in affected area, mostly during night time and ascertaining support to the possible movement against displacement. A conference was organised on Martyr’s Day, 30th January 1986 at Dabel on the bank of a river and under forest canopy. Most encouraging was total presence and active participation of women who came with lot of cooked food with them.
The food for 200 plus people came from each house including for activists from effluent families from out of Cotigaon gathered there for extending solidarity tasted the Adivasi food first time in their life. The conference ended with unanimous resolution to protest displacement non-violently, not protesting against proposed WLS and formed own organisation named as Vanvasi Sangathana. The Sangathana entirely led by local population persuaded village Panchayat to convene the Gram Sabha. The Panchayat convene the Gram Sabha where resolution against their displacement due to WLS was passed unanimously. After consistent persuasion with the state government the idea of displacing people from WLS was dropped.
Water Crisis in Cotigaon:
PS tried for few years to resolve the water crisis in Cotigaon. Hydrological surveys were done by noted NGO AFPRO for drilling the bore-wells in Avalim, Avem, Badde, Edda and Pansulemal. PS managed needed fund for four bore-wells through FORRAD, Delhi with a condition that fifth bore well should be installed with local (govt or non govt) support. The politicians created hurdles by forcing PS to get clearance for installing bore wells in Wild Life Sanctuary (WLS) area. The approval never came till the project period. Finally the money was refunded to the donor. However PS succeeded in installing on bore-well outside WLS with the help one government dept. This hand-pump is still (1987-2019) source for people of Avali.
PS got another opportunity of addressing water problem of Cotigaon and some other such starved area of Goa. PS was selected as nodal organisation by Technology Mission on Drinking Water, Govt of India to provide safe drinking water. As per norms, PS approached the state government for NOC for the project to be implemented in Goa. The response was far negative and discouraging. The sad is that water problem is not Cotigaon is not yet resolved whereas PS stopped working in Cotigaon in 1992.
The Pernem (Pedne) experiment and experience :
As one centre was open in Cotigaon after having firm feets in Bandora. Same time a centre was open in Deusu in Korganon Panchayat in 1985. Mr. Raju Talunekar, one of the founder of Peaceful Society was instrumental in starting centre at Deusu. Initially one balwadi was open at Deusu. For the promotion of milk production one separate cooperative was established besides having one Balwadi. The activities here were expanded under GPC-EZE package programme in 1986. Later Centre office was shifted to Agarwada and after 2 years finally to Pernem when activities expanded in 6 more villages including Arambol, Morjim, Mandrem, Agarwada, Parcem and Malpe. Besides having agro services providing agricultural tools like power tilles, irrigation pump, support for seeds, bio-gas, milch animals etc, However, the centre focused more enhancing skills of the women population of these villages and helping them in production and sale of their products. This became possible due to enthusiastic support from women population of these villages. 26 tailoring classes were run that too without any stipend to the benificiaries. Pedne centre also accessed support for hundreds of women under DWCRA scheme of state government. In all there were 7 such groups, which eventually achieved autonomous status.
Following were key activities in nutshell undertaken under GPC-EZE package programme III & VI from 1986 till 1995 in Bandora, Cotigaon and Pedne.
These centres were the base for a variety of services and training programs. These included
- Power tiller/sprayer services
- Desilting of tanks
- Farming systems inputs
- Land improvement
- Organic farming training and demonstration
- Biogas system
Livelihood Training Programs
- Farmers camps
- Fisherman’s Training program
- Training in Production of foodstuffs for women entrepreneurs
|PS’s sale counter in one of the rural festival in Pedne
- Vocational Training for Women specially in tailoring & embroidery,
Women’s Economic Program
- Production centres for foodstuffs
- Production training Program for independent entrepreneurship
- Vocational Training
- Handicrafts promotion.
- Marketing Assistance.
Community /Social Issues:
- Running Balwadi in Cotigaon and Deusu, Agarwada in Pedne.
- Youth & students mobilisation through Bharat Jodo Yatra.
- Promoting aforestation.
- Environmental Awareness.
- Inculcating rational mind.
- Youth camps.
- Health clinics.
- Action against domestic violence with women.
- Adult literacy.
- Linking beneficiaries with various government schemes.
While implementing package programme III and VI, Peaceful Society had two notable achievement. One was successful organisation of massive Save the Western Ghats March and holding Save the Western Ghats Conference which gave birth of Save the Western Ghats Movement between 1986-88. The second one was PS acquiring land and constructing needed infrastructure in Madkai, 10 kms away from Bandora. PS shifted its main office in September 1990 . Some the funds of Package programme III and VI was used for acquiring land and constructing low cost infrastructure with the due permission of GPC and EZE.