The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 is now in place with the objective to provide at least hundred days of guaranteed employment to the rural mass in a year; thanks to the long drawn and pain-staking campaign by the people from various corners of the country owing to whose pressure the Government enacted it. Similarly the enactment of another path breaking law, namely the Right to Information Act 2005, which aims at bringing about the transparency and accountability in the process of governance, is the fruit of persistent effort and campaign by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) and others to that end.
Despite some lacunae, both the legislations provide enormous opportunity to various actors of the society, mainly the Non Governmental Organisations, to facilitate the empowerment of the people, to remove poverty, to bring about prosperity in rural areas, and to make India a responsive, participatory, inclusive and vibrant democracy. The onus to spread awareness among the people and to help them to use the acts lies with the NGOs, People’s organisations and other community-based organisations. We should strategise to make the Adivasis, Dalits, Fisher folk, Landless people and other marginalized sections to use both the acts in their favour.
At the same time, we are expecting the peoples’ representatives in the Parliament to realize the justification and urgency for pressurizing the Government to table the Scheduled Tribe (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 drafted by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and to get it passed for the interest of Adivasis.
The proposed FCMC Bill has the declared intent of prohibiting foreign financial support to anti-national activities. While it is necessary to have various legal provisions and effective mechanism to defeat any attempt by any external agent/agency to encourage activities debilitating to the sovereignty and security of nation by flush of funds, necessary care should be taken so that the freedom of the NGOs to work for the development and rights of community is not curtailed. The need of the time is to have a thorough debate on the provisions of the bill inside and outside the Parliament and to make clear distinction between what constitute to be anti-national activities and what are genuinely acts of civil liberty.
This issue of SANDESH has tried to present a brief summary of some of the above-discussed legislations for the knowledge of the readers. The valuable comments, suggestions and contributions from the readers have been enriching the newsletter. We would be highly obliged if you can continue the same and can also send in your write-ups, article etc. on various issues relating to sustainable development of the marginalized communities.
Editorial Team, ODAF.
Letters to The Editor
We are very happy to know about the remarkable deeds of Bhima Munda of Jalia village of our area through the newsletter ‘Sandesh’. We are thankful to the Editor and others who contribute a lot for this newsletter.
Ms Bharati Nayak
Lok Vikash Parishad
* Some organisations have requested for free subscription of the newsletter. We have included their names and details in our recipients’ list.
An adult member of the family in rural areas will be entitled to 100 days of guaranteed employment in a financial year at the minimum daily wage rate of Rs 60/-…………………..If an applicant is not getting the employment within 15 days of his applying or from the date he seeks work in case of advance application, whichever is later, he will be entitled to daily unemployment allowance
With the primary objective of reducing poverty in rural areas through the employment, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) -2005 will be formulated in some identified backward districts from current financial year. Creation of durable assets and strengthening the livelihood resource base of the rural poor shall be an important objective of the Scheme and the works taken up under the Scheme shall be in rural areas
In the current financial year (2005-06) the Guaranteed Employment Scheme will be implemented in 200 backward districts of India and by 2008-09 it will have extended to all the 600 districts. Out of 200 districts included the 150 districts where the food for work programme is ongoing. The remaining 50 backward districts will be identified by the planning commission as per certain norms. In Orissa, the scheme will be first implemented in 18 districts where the food for work programme is continuing. These districts in Orissa are Koraput, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Rayagada, Mayurbhanj, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Phulbani, Boudh, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Ganjam, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Sonepur, Bolangir & Dhenkanal.
As per the programme to be implemented, an adult member of the family in rural areas will be entitled to 100 days of guaranteed employment in a financial year at the minimum daily wage rate of Rs 60/-. The schedule of rates of unskilled labourers shall be so fixed that a person working for seven hours would normally earn a wage equal to the wage rate. Under no circumstances shall the laborers be paid less than the wage rate The cost of the material component of projects including the wages of the skilled and semi-skilled workers taken up under the Scheme shall not exceed forty per cent of the total project costs. The wages under a Scheme may be paid either wholly in cash or in cash and kind provided that at least one-fourth of the wages shall be paid in cash only. The wage payment shall be made on weekly basis. The State Government may prescribe that a portion of the wages in cash may be paid to the labourers on a daily basis during the period of employment. In case the payment of wages is not made within the period specified under the Scheme, the labourers shall be entitled to receive payment of compensation as per the provisions of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936
Applications for work may be submitted in writing either to the Gram Panchayat or to the Programme Officer, as may be specified in the Scheme.
If an applicant is not getting the employment within 15 days of his applying or from the date he seeks work in case of advance application, whichever is later, he will be entitled to daily unemployment allowance at the rate of not less than one-fourth of the wage rate for the first thirty days during the financial year and not less than one-half of the wage rate for the remaining period of the financial year. The unemployment allowance shall be paid not later than fifteen days from the date on which it became due for payment. The District Programme Coordinator shall, in his Annual Report to the State Council, explain as to why employment could not be provided in cases where payment of unemployment allowance is involved.
An applicant who does not accept the employment provided to his household under a Scheme or does not report for work within fifteen days of being notified by the Programme Officer or the implementing agency to report for the work or continuously remains absent from work, without obtaining a permission from the concerned implementing agency for a period of more than one week or remains absent for a total period of more than one week in any month shall not be eligible to claim the unemployment allowance payable under this for a period of three months but shall be eligible to seek employment under the Scheme at any time.
The activities proposed to be undertaken under the scheme are water conservation and water harvesting, drought proofing (including aforestation and tree plantation),irrigation canals including micro and minor irrigation works, provision of irrigation facility to land owned by households belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes or to land of beneficiaries of land reforms or that of the beneficiaries under the Indira Awas Yojana of the Government of India, renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of tanks,land development, flood control and protection works including drainage in water logged areas, rural connectivity to provide all-weather access; and any other work which may be notified by the Central Government in consultation with the State Government and It shall be open to the Programme Officer and Gram Panchayat to direct any person who applied for employment under the Scheme to do work of any type permissible under it. Engagement of contractors or middlemen in the implementation of the project is strictly prohibited.
Provisions for regular inspection and supervision of works taken up under the Scheme shall be made to ensure proper quality of work as well as to ensure that the total wages paid for the completion of the work is commensurate with the quality and quantity of work done.
The implementing officials/panchyats of the scheme shall prepare annually a report containing the facts and figures and achievements relating to the implementation of the Scheme within their jurisdiction. All accounts and records including the muster rolls relating to the scheme shall be made available to the public and any person desirous of obtaining a copy of relevant extracts must be provided on demand and on payment of such fee as may be specified in the Scheme.
The adult members of every household who reside in any rural areas and are willing to do unskilled manual work may submit their names, age and the address of the household to the Gram Panchayat at the village level in the jurisdiction of which they reside for registration of their household for issuance of a job card.
It shall be the duty of the Gram Panchayat to register the households following the enquiry as it deems fit and issue a job card containing such details of adult members of the household affixing their photographs. The registration made shall be for such period as may be laid in the scheme, but in any case not less than five years, and may be renewed from time to time. Every adult member of a registered household whose name appears in the job card shall be entitled to apply for unskilled manual work under the Scheme. The Gram Panchayat shall send such list or lists of the names and addresses of households and their adult members registered with it and supply such other information to the concerned Programme Officer at such periods and in such form as may be specified in the Scheme.
If the Gram Panchayat is satisfied at any time that a person has registered with it by furnishing false information, it may direct the Programme Officer to direct his name to be struck off from the register and direct the applicant to return the job card. But, in such cases the applicant must be given the opportunity of being heard in the presence of two independent persons.
Priority will be provided to women in such a way that at least one-third of the beneficiaries shall be women who have registered and requested for work under this Act.
There shall be no limit on the number of days of employment for which a person may apply, or on the number of days of employment actually provided to him subject to the aggregate entitlement of the household.
The Gram Panchayat and Programme Officer, as the case may be, shall be bound to accept valid applications and to issue a dated receipt to the applicant. Group applications may also be submitted. Applicants who are provided with work shall be so intimated in writing, by means of a letter sent to him at the address given in the job card and by a public notice displayed at the office of the Panchayats at the district, intermediate or village level.
As far as possible, employment shall be provided within a radius of five kilometres of the village where the applicant resides at the time of applying. In cases the employment is provided outside such radius, it must be provided within the Block, and the labourers shall be paid ten per cent of the wage rate as extra wages to meet additional transportation and living expenses.
A period of employment shall ordinarily be at least fourteen days continuously with not more than six days in a week.
Provision shall be made in the scheme for advance applications, that is, applications which may be submitted in advance of the date from which employment is sought and Provision shall be made in the Scheme for submission of multiple applications by the same person provided that the corresponding periods for which employment is sought do not overlap.
The Gram Panchayat shall prepare and maintain or cause to be prepared and maintained such registers, vouchers and other documents in such form and in such manner as may be specified in the Scheme containing particular of job cards and passbooks issued, name, age and address of the head of the household and the adult members of the household registered with Gram Panchayat.
A list of persons who are provided with the work shall be displayed on the notice board of the Gram Panchayat and at the office of the Programme Officer and at such other places as the Programme Officer may deem necessary and the list shall be open for inspection by the State Government and any person interested.
If any personal injury is caused to any person employed under the Scheme by accident arising out of and in the course of his employment, he shall be entitled to, free of charge, such medical treatment as is admissible under the scheme. Where hospitalization of the injured worker is necessary, the State Government shall arrange for such hospitalisation including accommodation, treatment, medicines, and payment of daily allowance not less than half of the wage rate required to be paid had the injured been engaged in the work.
If a person employed under a Scheme dies or becomes permanently disabled by accident arising out of and in the course of employment, he shall be paid by the implementing agency an ex-gratia payment at the rate of twenty five thousand rupees or such amount as may be notified by the Central Government, and the amount shall be paid to the legal heirs of the deceased or the disabled, as the case may be.
The facilities of safe drinking water, shade for children and periods of rest, first-aid box with adequate material for emergency treatment for minor injuries and other health hazards connected with the work being performed shall be provided at the work site.
In case the number of children below the age of six years accompanying the women working at any site are five or more, provisions shall be made to depute one of such women workers to look after such children and she shall be paid the wage rate.
Any personal injury is caused by accident to a child accompanying any person who is employed under the Scheme, such person shall be provided free medical treatment for the child and an ex-gratia payment in case of death or permanent disability.
Source:National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,2005.
In normal circumstances the PIO is supposed to provide information within 30 days after the receipt of the application, and in case the information sought is relating to the life and property of the citizens, the PIO is duty bound to furnish the same within 48 hours…a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees will be imposed per day if time limit is not adhered ….
The citizens’ right to information about the affairs of the government is an effective mechanism by which the State can be made responsible and accountable to the people directly. In order to effectuate this fundamental right of citizens that is guaranteed under article-19 (1) of the Constitution, the Parliament has enacted the Right to Information Act-2005 (RTI Act), which has come into effect on 12th Oct 2005. It applies to both the Centre and the States.
Right to Information means:
Right to Information denotes taking notes, extracts, certified copies of documents or records or obtaining information in electronic modes like in the form of diskettes, floppies, video cassettes etc .It also includes making inspection of work, documents and record, and taking certified samples of material.
This definition brings about a broad lot of things under the purview of public scrutiny, not just limited to those written in black and white. For example, under the Act a citizen can ask for a sample of material from public construction work to inspect its quality.
Information broadly defined:
Information has been very comprehensively defined as “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.
Authorities covered under the Act:
A citizen can ask information not only from the government but also the Supreme Court, High Courts, the central and state Legislatures, local governments, NGOs substantially financed by the government or even from the private concerns and other civil society organisations (CSOs) if such information is of pubic nature.
The state of Jammu & Kashmir is excluded from the purview of the act.
How to request for information:
Person desirous of information will have to fill up the ‘Form-A’ and submit the same to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the respective department with the fee of rupees twenty (no fee for people in BPL list). The PIO will provide information within a stipulated period (thirty days in ordinary circumstances) and intimate the amount of fee to be submitted for getting the same. On asking, the details on how to get the information have to be explained by the PIO as a matter of duty.
Who are public information officers (PIOs):
PIOs are the officers designated by the public authorities in all administrative units or offices who will act as nodal officers to provide information to the citizens under the Act.
There shall be Central/State Information commissions (Ics) constituting the Chief Information Commissioner and other such Information Commissioners both at the central and the state level which may be termed as the kingpin of the whole arrangement. It is assigned with the responsibility of encouraging the citizens’ right to know and enforce various provisions of the act. The Ics can be approached by a citizen when s/he has been unable to submit the application by reason that no such officer has been appointed or the PIO has unreasonably refused to accept an application for information or the PIO has not furnished information within the time specified or has malafidely denied the request for information or has knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or has destroyed information etc. The independence in the functioning of the commission has been ensured by providing a fixed tenure and high status.
Time limit to provide information:
In normal circumstances the PIO is supposed to provide information within 30 days after the receipt of the application, and in case the information sought is relating to the life and property of the citizens, the PIO is duty bound to furnish the same within 48 hours.
Penalty Provision for non compliances:
While hearing an appeal if the IC is of the opinion that the PIO has, without any reasonable cause, refused to receive an application for information or has not furnished information within the time specified or malafidely denied the request for information or knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information or destroyed information which was the subject of the request or obstructed in any manner in furnishing the information, it shall impose a penalty of two hundred and fifty rupees each day till application is received or information is furnished; the total amount of such penalty shall, however, not exceed twenty five thousand rupees in a single case.
The aggrieved citizen does not have the opportunity to directly approach the Information Commission for appeal against the decision of the PIO. The first appeal is to lie with the officer senior in the rank to the PIO concerned, who will discharge the application within 30 days. The second appellate authority is the IC and the third is the High Court.
It is mandatory for different government offices and departments to publish:
The particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; the powers and duties of its officers and employees; the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; rules, regulations etc followed used by its employees for discharging its functions etc.
The budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, the amount allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes.
The details of any arrangement that exists for consultation with the members of the public in relation to the formulation and implementation of its policy.
The names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers.
It is also urged that the public authorities should endeavour to provide as much information suo moto, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information.
Restricted category of information:
There is some category information, which is restricted from public disclosure. They are:
Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State; breach of privilege of any Legislature or amount to contempt of court; endanger the life or physical safety of any person(s); impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; harm the competitive position of a third party in terms trade and commerce and intellectual property etc.
Information received in confidence from foreign governments.
Cabinet papers, including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers.
The parameter of disclosure (or restriction) is clearly defined as ‘the information, which cannot be denied to the Parliament or a State Legislature, shall not be denied to any person.
Duty of PIO in case of rejection of application:
It provides that in case of rejection of a request for information Public Information Officer shall communicate to the applicants:-
The reasons for such rejection
The period within which an appeal against such rejection may be preferred.
The particulars of the appellate authority.This provision is made in consonance to the principles of natural justice and is reflective of the onus of the state to guide the citizen about the further course of action after their request is not accepted
Is partial disclosure allowed:
In case where a part of the information sought under an application come under exempt category the PIO should consider providing that much information which can reasonably be severed from the exempted portion.
Official secrets act overridden:
Official Secrets Act-1923 has been overridden and it is mandatory to disclose suo moto as much information regarding the affairs of the different departments of the government, and as far as possible in local official language.
Corruption and human rights violation by security agencies:
Though the act keeps the intelligence and security organisations out of its purview, the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations by them shall not be exempted from disclosure.
Provision for poor and illiterate masses:
The act takes note of the prevailing poverty and illiteracy in the country responding which it has exempted the BPL category of people from paying any fee for getting any information, and has enjoined the PIOs to record the oral request of a person seeking information who is unable to write and act upon the same.
What is the role of Central/State Governments:
The role of Central and State Governments are to develop educational programs for the public especially disadvantaged communities, promote timely dissemination of accurate information to the public and provide a ‘User Guide’ in respective official language giving details of the act.
Who has the Rule making power:
Central Government, State Governments (and other such competent authorities as defined in S.2 (e) of the act) are vested with powers to make rules to carry out the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Source:1.Right to Information Act-2005.
2.Orissa government RTI Rules.
If any NGO contravene any provisions of the Act, the Central Government if required may conduct search and seize such account / records / money and produce the same before the court / authority / tribunal.
To substitute the existing Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, the UPA Government introduced the new bill called “The Foreign Contribution (Management and Control) Bill, 2005”. This bill intends to consolidate the law relating to the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations or companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality for anti-national activities. The same has been referred to the group of ministers by the cabinet for their review.
The salient features of the bill are as follows:
Existing organizations registered under FCRA should get fresh registration within a period of 2 years.
Registration will be given only if the Registering Authority (who is the authority - not known) is satisfied that the person making an application
Registration once done is valid for a period of 5 years and can be renewed 2 years prior to expiry (4th & 5th year) and the renewal will be for 5 years at once.
Suspension / Cancellation of Registration:
Registration may be suspended for a period of 90 days by the Registering Authority of even cancelled by the Central Government if it is satisfied that;
a)the holder of the certificate has made a statement in, or in relation to, the application for the grant of registration or renewal thereof, which is incorrect or false; or
b) the holder of the certificate has violated any of the terms and conditions of the certificate or renewal thereof; or
c) in the opinion of the Registering Authority, it is necessary in the public interest to cancel the certificate; or
d) the holder of certificate has violated any of the provisions of this Act or rules or order made there under.
It the registration is cancelled, the organization can not apply for registration for another 3 years.
The NGO can use one bank account for receipt of foreign contribution and may use more than one bank account for disbursement of foreign fund.
Restriction to utilize foreign contribution:
If any NGO contravene the any provisions of the Act, the Registering Authority may, by general or special order, uthorize such gazetted officer, holding a Group A post, as it may think fit, to audit any books of account kept or maintained by such person.
Search & Seizure:
If any NGO contravene any provisions of the Act, the Central Government if required may conduct search and seize such account / records / money and produce the same before the court / authority / tribunal. The provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 shall apply in so far as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Act to all seizures made under this Act.
Any NGO making of false statement, declaration or delivering false accounts or accept article or currency in contravention of the ACT or contravene of any provision of the Act shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with both.
Source: FCMC Bill 2005 can be downloaded from http://mha.nic.in/fcmc-bill-05.pdf
(Best Practices: Case Study From the Member NGO- Integrated Rural Development of Weaker Section in India -IRDWSI)
What makes the villagers most proud of their power plant is that they built it by themselves, and there has been absolutely no displacement.
This case study is based on Energy Options as an alternative to Industrialization, Economic Globalization, yet different from the conventional approach.
The village of Putsil with a population of 370 is located at an altitude of 1,150 mts above sea level. One has to traverse through steep mud a road, which cuts harsh lines through the green, rugged hills, to get to Putsil.
When twilight heralds the arrival of night, oil lamps and kerosene lanterns lend a ghostly glow to the villages in the Koraput district of Orissa. Women hurry to finish their chores before it gets too dark and the villagers retire for the night. Except in Putsil village of Semiliguda block where night life has become more vibrant and the dark doesn’t inspire fear: this village has got electricity thanks to a mini hydro power plant coordinated by IRDWSI, with funding from organizations abroad. But what makes the villagers most proud of their power plant is that they built it by themselves and there has been absolutely no displacement.
The beneficiaries are Adivasis belonging to a village called Putsil situated at remote corner of Koraput district.
A survey was conducted which showed that the two main activities for which power was required was lighting, milling and grinding. This amounted to a demand of 5640 W during the night and 3000 W during the day. The people themselves suggested that the scheme could provide battery charging facility for the neighboring villages. Provision had also to be made for increased electricity demand due to population growth. Taking these into account, the demand for power was worked out to be about 10 KW to 12 KW within eight years.
The power plant was commissioned in August 1999. The powerhouse stands about a km before Putsil and is operated by two trained villagers. Electricity is transmitted to the village via a one km long low voltage transmission line laid underground. The powerhouse is operated for about three hours in the morning and for four hours in the evening with each house provided 60W of electricity. Currently the plant generates about 7KW of power but the capacity can be increased up to 13 KWs if the need rises.
Putsil village: An inspiring case study of IRDWSI’s touted objective of People’s Participation in Their Own Development:
“The villagers saved about Rs. 3 lakh in labour costs out of the total cost of Rs.13.5 lakhs. The mini hydro power plant is perhaps the best instance of participatory approach of people towards their own development.”
For the mini hydro project an already existing dam was modified to accommodate the new needs. It was decided that not even a single tree would be cut during the project and the power plant would be totally people friendly. Each villager in Putsil contributed in terms of labour.
Water for the hydro plant was to be provided from the perennial Kodramb stream, a tributary of the Karandi river. The scheme was designed to operate with the lowest flow in the Kodramb stream to ensure year round power supply. It was found that the discharge in the stream was at the rate of 50 liters per second. But diversion of this water during the dry season could affect the irrigation of the paddy fields. Consultation with the villagers resulted in them agreeing to divert water to the power plant during night and continuing irrigation during the day.
As one enters the village of Putsil, the happiness and pride on the faces of the people is self evident. “Initially we had some doubts. But as the projects progressed and electricity finally came, our faith was restored. Now we are very happy”, said Masuru Santa, the village headman.
The main beneficiaries of electrification are the women. “Previously we had to go to Semiliguda to buy a liter of kerosene resulting in the waste of a day and kerosene is also getting dearer”, said Devdo Jani, women’s group leader. Another major benefit is the grinding mill which has taken a major burden off their shoulders. “We spend so many backbreaking hours grinding and pounding the rice and ragi. With this mill that has been eliminated”, added Devdo Jani. Women also find that a lot of work that they had to do at night can now be postponed to the evening since power is there. Children too can study in the evenings without straining themselves.
There are new signs of consumerism. Each house sports a radio or a tape recorder. The village community hall has got a brand new TV; a spanking dish antenna and hold your breath, even a computer. A couple of youth were trained in the use of computers. The TV, needless to say, is very popular in the Putsil village. “Though we speak the Kuvi dialect and not many understand Oriya, still everyone watches TV. “The cinema programmes are very interesting”, said a youth. The neighboring villages too have benefited. One, they can make use of the grinding mill and two; they can get battery operated appliances charged at Putsil.
Nevertheless, a sum of Rs. 20 per month per family was and continues to be collected towards the construction and maintenance of the power project.
The Putsil project threw up a few surprises too. The women of Putsil demanded that they be provided provision for electric heaters over the firewood stoves currently used by them. Inquiries by a puzzled IRDWSI threw up the fact that with electricity, the women could now see the smoke in the interior of their houses which had no outlet since most houses have only an apology for a window. “Only now they realized how polluted their houses were. Providing electric heaters is not feasible.
About 10 acres of land have been earmarked on which the villagers will learn nursery management, raising of saplings for regeneration and planting of fruits trees. Already, with IRDWSI’s efforts, environmental awareness has caught on in Putsil. A case in point is the nearly 2000 acres of forests on the nearby hills that the villagers have protected. They do not allow anyone to cut trees or exploit the forests.
The village of Putsil is surely an example in how with local people’s participation alternative energy options can be considered for power. “Granted, this model cannot be replicated anywhere and everywhere. But such mini hydro projects can be considered in areas where it is feasible, without restoring to any traumatic displacement or environmental degradation”, and as for Putsil, the future only looks bright.
A Team comprising 10 eminent personalities from German visited India from 4-13 of October in an Ecumenical Encounter Visit Programme. They are: -Mr Helmut Kremers, Editor in Chief, “zeitzeichen”- Journal of the German Churches; Ms. Monika Lengelsen,University Professor , Member of the Synod of EKD (Chairman of the Committee of Ecumenical Affairs) and Member of the Board of the Evangelical Church of Rheinland; Mr. Uwe Michelsen, TV-Journalist (NDR), Member of the Synod of EKD (Chairman of the Committee for Development and Environment) and Member of the Board of the Church of Nordelbien; Ms. Christa Reichard, Member of German Parliament (Committee of Development Affairs, CDU); Mr. Torstn Rosenau, Pastor of Lippische Kirche, responsible for KED; Ms. Christina Flauder, Synod of EKD, Synod of Bavaria; Mr. Stephan Dorgerloh, Director of the Protestant Academy of Lutherstadt, Wittenberg; Ms.Claudia Warning, Board of Executive Directors EED; Ms. Erika Märke, EED Head of Asia Department; Mr. Christop Wilkens, EED, Ecumenical Encounter Programme.
The main objective of this visit was to sensitize the leaders and decision makers of member organisations associated with EED and its patrons towards the developmental challenges faced by Adivasi and other marginalized communities, and about their struggle. The focus of the visit was to know about the situation of Adivasi communities in Orissa, Jharkhand and other states of India. They had also a great interest to know about the rehabilitation efforts undertaken after the Tsunami hit Tamil Nadu. The Team visited many places of India.
Their Programme at Ranchi (in proposed Koel-Karo Dam area) and Chennai (interaction with representatives of Civil society organisations on different issues) was coordinated by ODAF and IRDWSI. The Team visited proposed Koel-Karo Dam affected areas of Ranchi and interacted with the potential oustees and leaders of anti-dam struggles about their problems and responses. Representatives of the struggles against displacement caused by Rourkela Steel Plant and anti-pollution campaign against sponge iron factories in Sundergarh dsitrict of Orissa interacted with the Team and submitted a memorandum in this regard. The important personalities like Dr. Ram Dayal Munda,
Former Vice Chancellor, Ranchi University and Founder member of ICITP; Mrs. Dayamani Burla, Mr. Dhanik Guria,Leaders from Koel Karo - Jan Sangthan; Rt Rev HembramBishop, GELC ;Fr. Alex Ekka XISS;Mr. Sanjay Bosu Mullick, Jangal Bachav Andolan, BIRSA;Mr. Megnath, Social Activist and Film Maker, AKHRA; Ms. Tete Pushpa, Journalist; Mr.A.K.Singh, Coordinator, SPAR; Mr. Ganshyam and Team JUDAV; Fr. Nicholas Burla, Mr. Augustus Logus, Mr. Remish Ekka all from Sponge Iron Struggle group, Orissa; Mr. Bibhu Prasad Tripathy,Advocate, High Court, Orissa; William Stanley ODAF/IRDWSI, Orissa.
The Team visited the Tsunami affected areas of Tamil Nadu. A Meeting was organised on 10th October in Chennai, where the Team interacted with some experts and representatives from various Civil Society Organisations including Dr. K C Malhotra Anthropologist, New Delhi; Mr. T.S.S.Mani, Freelance journalist and Human Rights Activist, Tamil Nadu; Mr.Rajasekaran,
Fishermen Leader, Tamil Nadu; Dr. Shiela Benjamin, Executive Secretary, SCINDeA, Tamil Nadu; Dr. Rukmini Rao CWS, Andhra Pradesh; Mr. Sahadevaiah , Dalit Activist, Andhra Pradesh; Mrs. Lalitha Missal, State Coordinator, National Alliance of Women, Orissa; Ms. Hemalatha Hontal, Adivasi Activist, Orissa; Mrs. Shanti Devapiriyam, Project Leader, Anawim, Tamil Nadu; Mr. Sathish Samuel ,Country Representative, KNH, Karnataka; William Stanley ODAF/IRDWSI, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. The discussion was held on issues related to indigenous people, women and sustainable development.
SCINDeA Team’s Visit to ODAF
A Team from SCINDeA (South Coastal India Network for Development Alternatives) – a forum of NGOs working among Adivasis, Dalits, fisher folks, slum-dwellers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnatak, recently came in an Exposure Visit to ODAF during 22nd and 28th October 05. They visited operational areas of IRDWSI and RAD, two member organisations based in Koraput district ,and ODAF Secretariat Office at Bhubaneswar. The Team included Dr.Sheila Benjamin-Executive Director, SCINDeA, Mr Andrew Arulappan, Executive Secretary, SCINDeA, Mr Gnaniah, Mr Regi Mathews, Ms Philomina, Ms Senthamarai, Mr Srinivasan, Mr Vijayan, Mr Yuvaraj, Mr Arivazhagan, Mr Joseph and Mr Pitchai.
On 23rd October, a Special Meeting of SCINDeA Team and ODAF Members of South Orissa was organised in IRDWSI Conference Hall where, including the Team, Dr. William Stanley, Executive Secretary of ODAF and Director of IRDWSI, Mr.Bhusan Benya-Director, RAD, Mr. G.P.Samantaray-Director,SPVK, Mr. Srideep Sirkar -Jeypore Cluster Coordinator, SEDP, Mr.Madhab Dalapathy-Programme Coordinator,IRDWSI, Mr.Dhirendra Panda-Coordinator, ODAF and IRDWSI staffs participated in it. Dr. Stanley welcomed and introduced them with structure, functions, spread-out, membership patterns, activities of ODAF. IDWSI, RAD, SPVK, SEDP representatives described about their organisations. Following the discussion, the questions raised by SCINDeA team members were clarified.
On 23rd afternoon and 24th amidst the rains the SCINDeA Team visited the villages Chikalmari , Gangamaguda, Parja Pungar, Dokriguda, to observe various Programmes implemented by IRDWSI. The visitors interacted with the villagers and community volunteers about the success, utility, community participation, gender focus, methodology, technicalities, value-base of the programmes in contrast with the community adoptability/accessibility. In a Meeting for Reflection organised by IRDWSI in the 24th evening, the Visitors expressed their appreciation towards the activities under Sustainable Secured Livelihood Programmes of ODAF and Micro-Hydel Power Plants of IRDWSI. Similarly, on 25th they also visited Ramjiput and Baunsaput villages in the operational areas of RAD and interacted with the villagers and staffs of it. Same day night they left for Bhubaneswar.
With a purpose to give holistic view of ODAF to the Visitors, a half-Day’s Meeting was organised at Hotel Grand Central, BBSR. Dr Stanley gave an overview of the origin and structure of ODAF, and narrated its role and strategy of intervention about the successful dealing of various micro and macro issues. The consultants of ODAF presented how the forum undertakes the activities for ensuring secured and sustainable livelihood of Adivasis, Dalits and other down trodden mass of Orissa; and how the advocacy work vis-à-vis the rights of the community is being vigourously taken up with the authorities at various level. The desk coordinators of the secretariat also described their role and responsibilities.
In the afternoon, the Team visited Secretariat office and interacted with Desk staffs of Secretariat. Particularly they discussed intensively with the staffs of Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Documentation and Finance Desks and wanted to know about systems, policies followed by ODAF and Member NGOs.
Finally, thanking to ODAF for sharing their experiences, the SCINDeA friends expressed that this Exposure Programme would be very much useful for SCINDeA in future.
They left ODAF and Bhubaneswar on 29th afternoon.
With an objective of apprising the Orissa Government’s move to dilute the Constitutional mandate in the scheduled areas of the State, a delegation comprising Mr. Aditya Patnaik, Chairman, ODAF, Dr. William Stanley, Executive Secretary, ODAF and Mr. Sankarshan Hota, member, ODAF, had the opportunity to meet His Excellency, the Honorable Governor of Orissa, Shri. Rameswar Thakur on 4th October 2005 at Raj Bhawan. The team requested His Excellency-the Chief Constitutional Authority for administering in the Schedule V areas of the State, for his benign intervention to protect the life and livelihood of the Adivasis of the State. Submitting a memorandum to the Honorable Governor, His Excellency was apprised about the number of studies conducted by the members of ODAF and also by other NGOs, which came up with the facts, figures and analysis of Land Transfer from Adivasis to Non-Adivasis in spite of the law regulating such transfers. Almost all land acquisition by the Government of Orissa in Scheduled Areas after 2002 has violated the Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable Property( By Scheduled Tribes) (OSATIP) Regulation, 1956, and therefore, is open to legal challenge. Hence, the Government wants to dilute the laws by bringing amendments to wriggle out of a very difficult situation. His Excellency the Governor Shri Rameswar Thakur assured the delegation that he would look into the matter and have a discussion with the team.
A nine-day Programme for Capacity Building of some key staff of member NGOs and ODAF Secretariat was organized by ODAF from 12th to 20th September 2005 at Pantha Nivas, Bhubaneswar. The themes such as Organisational Development, Finance Management, Micro Credit and Marketing were covered during these days under the facilitation of Mr. Nagendra Acharya, Mr. Manoj Fogla, Dr. Sujitav Dash, Mr. Manoj Pradhan and Mr.Mommed Amin. 37 staff participated in it and were able to fine-tune their understanding on the subjects and learnt how to integrate the theoretical orientation with the day-to-day practice. Critical discussions were held on various types, procedures, systems, methodologies, utilities, strength and weakness of Organisational Development, Finance Management, Micro Finance and Marketing of Rural Products. During the identification of options from variety of concept and practices, it was suggested that the same should be related and testified against the values and criteria agreed by ODAF member NGOs. Dr. Badal Sengupta from Bonn (Germany), an internationally acclaimed Development Facilitator, was kind enough to guide the whole Programme as the Key Facilitator towards a successful completion.
The GWA-Orissa Process organised the People’s Convention in Context of Hong Kong Ministerial of WTO on 15-16th of December 2005 at Red Cross Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, Orissa. The main objective of organising such convention was to provide a platform to the people from various corners of Orissa to express their concerns over the adverse impact of WTO on the marginalized sections of the developing countries, particularly on the farmer community. It was attended by various people’s organisations, peasants’ organisations, non-governmental organisations, and the people at large. During discussion the participants articulated both the visible and not-so-visible damages done to the agricultural, non-agricultural and service sectors and to the indigenous knowledge system of India by the WTO process. They very strongly opposed to the move of Orissa government to modify the existing regulations that would legitimize the transfer of land from the Adivasis to the non-Adivasis, which is being done in the name of so called developmental projects.
At end of the convention separate memorandums were prepared and sent to the WTO Ministerial, the Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister of India and to the Honourable Governor and Chief Minister of Orissa. The highlights of the memos are as follows.
In the interest of billions of poor peasants and Adivasis, agriculture should be taken out from the domain of any kind of trade agreement.
The developed countries should reduce the subsidies on agriculture.
Considering the interest of the rural artisans and fisher-folks etc, related issues should be kept out of the negotiation under NAMA (Non-Agricultural Market Access).
The Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Bio-diversities of a country should be recognized and respected.