Friday, June 25, 2010

DEVELOPING AGRICULTURE IN ALIRAJPUR

Kamlesh Dodia
ALIRAJPUR, JUNE 25, 2010: The monsoon season may have arrived, but that does not bring much cheer to the farmers in Alirajpur (Madhya Pradesh). Although agriculture is the primary occupation of the people here, it is not a source of much income. The undulating terrain, scanty top soil and insufficient rain, lead to poor agricultural outputs. Besides this, the crops that are grown are largely for home consumption. Hence, this subsistence agriculture practiced by the tribal villagers, has done very little to improve their economic condition.

In order to make a dent in this gloomy scenario, Don Bosco Alirajpur Shaishanik Samajik Kendra has recently launched an Agricultural Project on a pilot basis. The idea is to experiment with some new crops and also innovative methods of agriculture that would help the farmers get better returns from their fields. Based on the learnings of the pilot phase, the project will then be scaled up in the following years.
The first crop that we are presently experimenting with is ginger. A group of 20 farmers from 10 different villages was selected to pilot the ginger experiment. Mr. Chandarsinh Bhagat, a local expert, gave this group systematic training in ginger cultivation. He conducted practical sessions at his wadi and also provided the ginger shoots to the farmers. Over the past ten days, under the personal supervision of the Development staff, the selected farmers have grown the ginger in the plots prepared for this cultivation. All the necessary care is now being taken to ensure that it grows well.

The other plans in this project include horticulture development, vegetable plantation, and eventually also the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). All these possibilities are being explored keeping in mind the soil and climatic conditions of the region. The initial response of the farmers has been enthusiastic. We are hoping to have some good results so that many more farmers can then benefit from this project.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

NREGS DEMANDS SUBMITTED TO DISTRICT COLLECTOR

Mayank Parmar sdb
GUJARAT, JUNE 15, 2010: Don Bosco Kapadvanj organized a protest gathering in front of the District Collector’s Office on 14th June, 2010. About 30 village leaders along with the staff of Don Bosco took part in this day long hunger strike to highlight the irregularities in payments to NREGS workers.
The preceding month had been spent preparing for this event. Ever since the NREGS work has started in the villages, people have had many complaints regarding the payments: often they are underpaid, the payments are regularly delayed, and in some cases no payments have been made for work done several months ago. Although the NREGA stipulates that payments should be made every fifteen days, there is not a single instance in the Kapadvanj Taluka where this has actually happened. Don Bosco, along with the village people, has been trying to resolve this problem for many months, but failed to receive the necessary cooperation from the taluka officials. Hence, it was decided to hold this protest. Data from several villages in the taluka was gathered regarding this problem, and a memorandum to the Collector was prepared.
At around 12.30 noon, Fr. Mayank Parmar and a group of village representatives met the Collector and placed their demands before him. The key demands were: payments should be done in 15 days; compensation should be given for the delayed payments; payment rates should be increased; taluka and village panchayat officials should involve the local people in the scheme so as to improve its implementation.
The Kheda District Collector promised to look into the matter immediately. He also said that he would forward these demands to the District Rural Development Authority (DRDA) and the State NREGS authorities. He was appreciative of the role being played by Don Bosco in securing the proper implementation of the NREGS in the Kapadvanj taluka.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

STATE LEVEL CONSULTATION ON INTERNATIONAL ANTI CHILD LABOUR DAY

Godfrey D’Sa sdb
MUMBAI, JUNE 13, 2010: Balprafulta, a Don Bosco Child Rights Organization, along with Holistic Child Development of India (HCDI), Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and CARE (Mahrashtra), on the occasion of the International Anti Child Labour Day, organized a State Level Consultation on June 11 and 12, 2010, with participants from both Government and Non-Government Organizations. For quite some time now, those working in the area of Child Labour felt that an upsurge had to be created in Maharashtra to curb the exploitation of children in the labour market. Hence Balprafulta, celebrating its Tenth Anniversary, took the initiative to bring about a convergence of various stakeholders and move towards preparing a Vision Document for the eradication of Child Labour in Maharashtra.

From Government Organizations those who participated in the Consultation were DCP Sheela Sail (Mumbai Crime Branch) and DYSP Mr. Ghondhe (Maharashtra) of the Home Department, Mr. Illwe (Director of Labour Cell) and Mr. Shailendra Pol (Asst. Labour Commissioner) from the Labour Department, Ms. Jayant Pavnikar from the Department of Women and Child Welfare, Mr. Suryakant Kulkarni and Ms. Farida Lambe from the State Child Rights Commission, Dr. Mane from the Mumbai University Law Department, Ms Neelam Gorhe, MLA and Shiv Sena spokesperson, and Mr. Waidande from YASHADA. Also present were representatives from UNICEF, CRY, Childline India Foundation, Saathi, Pratham, CCVC, YUVA, Td.H, FACSE, Shikshan Haq Abhiyan (Western Maharashtra), Nari Probadhan Manch (Latur), Apulki (Jalgoan), Apeksha (Amravati), ARC (Pune) and others. In all over hundred people enthusiastically participated in the two-day proceedings that centered on finding new ways to make the Government focus on the issue of Child Labour and at the same time create a groundswell to make people more aware of this malaise in our society.

Some highlights of the Consultation were:

- Enforce the implementation of the J.J. Act (2000) along with the Amendments (2006) and entirely scrap off the Child Labour Regulation and Prohibition Act of 1986.

- Using the J.J. Act as central, amalgamate all other child related laws and create a new Child Protection Act.

- Transfer the responsibility for children (everyone below the age of eighteen) from the Labour Department to the Department for Women and Child Welfare and work towards strengthening this Department.

- Presently the entire process of Re-Integration of children after rescue is weak. Work towards building a comprehensive plan which will support the re-integration of children into mainstream society.

- Use the provisions allowed in the Children’s Act and insist on creating Children’s Courts. This will enable fast track prosecution as well as create greater sensitivity towards vulnerable children.

- Right across all Departments of the State, it must be unanimously accepted that a child is anyone who has not completed eighteen years of age.

- Scrap the term “Child Labour” and instead use a more inclusive term “Working Child”.

- To create groundswell and increase awareness, focus on sustained advocacy by regularly raising questions on children in the Assembly, insisting on budgetary provisions for children and writing in the newspapers about the plight of working children.

A spark has been ignited and Balprafulta along with many others wish that this spark turns not only into a flame, but grows into a fire that will purge away the exploitation our children suffer under the hands of unscrupulous employers. A unanimous cry from all the participants was to work towards making Maharashtra a ‘Child Labour Free State.’

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WOMENS SELF HELP GROUP IN KAPADVANJ

Parmar Mayank sdb
KAPADVANJ, JUNE 12, 2010: Ekta self help group of Navapura, Kapdavanj Taluka organized a women get together with fellowship meal on June 10, 2010. This celebration was called in collaboration with other four groups who were completing their three years of existence. Originally it was planned to have the get together in Navapura but due to heavy rains and cyclone it was shifted to Don Bosco, Kapadvanj. Jagriti group of Alampura, Roshni group of Nazamiya, Umang SHG of Nava Muvada, Ekta SHG of Bapuji Na Muvada, and Disha SHG of Sonipura were a part of the get together.

More than sixty five women were a part of this celebration. Fr. Ivan the Rector of the house welcomed the gatherings at Don Bosco and told them that he was happy to host this function for the betterment of women.

Mr. Manibhai D. Patel M.L.A. of Kapadvanj taluka was the chief guest for the day. Women themselves called him so that they could share their problems with him. Expressing their opinion the women presented a memorandum stating their problems related to water and road facility in their Muvadas. Mr. Patel told that it was for the first time that he saw women coming up on stage and giving a speech in Kapadvanj taluka. He said that he would consider their application and assured them to do the needful.

Fr. Mayank in his speech told them to go beyond SHGs and get involved in social activities and addressed them at Gramsabha level and even ahead. It was nice to see women remembering the previous director of DRISTI Fr. Gregory and the staff for helping them form these SHGs. As an act of gratitude women presented a token of appreciation to the director of DRISTI and to their animator. Women voiced out saying that we are happy to be part of Don Bosco Self Help Group.