The flip side
We were happy to see Himanshu Thakkar's article on the World Bank ( wb )-funded Uttar Pradesh Rural Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation Project ( uprwsesp ) ( Down To Earth , Vol 5, No 6). But his article seemed a little rushed. There are more interesting and dynamic angles to the programme, apart from its plans to provide drinking water to 700 villages of Uttarakhand and other parts of up .
The Project marks the first partnership between the wb and ngo s, which is delicately balanced by the state government's participation. The project offers enormous potential to break new ground in a collective effort involving the local community, ngo s, the government and the funding agencies to address the needs of the up hills.
Thakkar's assertion that the Project's need for service organisations (read ngo s) prevents any community from taking up the scheme itself, is not far from the ground reality. However, a more important implication of his statement is that it underscores the distant relationships that the government shares with the village folk. ngo s can play a special role in bridging these gaps.
Other concerns voiced by the article -- like the equitable distribution of water and the high costs -- are very much on our minds. As a participating ngo, one can say that for the first time we are involved in a project that is sensitive to ngo realities. The project's director, Parameshwar Iyer, as well as the secretary of the rural development ministry, Indrani Sen, are both interested in ensuring that this collective effort heralds a new approach to the development process...
Simply the best
I have been subscribing to Down To Earth -- the best environmental magazine I have ever read -- right from the start and have been learning about the environmental and social problems of India. I am greatly interested in getting in touch with people in India involved with landscaping and environment problems. I shall be visiting India/Nepal from December 1996 to March 1997. Could you please send me the addresses of some environmental and landscaping engineers and institutes whom I could get in touch with...
On behalf of a friend, who is the chief agricultural adviser in Timbuktu, Mali, I would like to enquire if there is an institute in India concerned with camels and their use in agriculture. In particular, my friend seeks hints on how to train camels to be draught animals for agricultural activities like plowing....
This is with reference to the debate 'Stressed woods' ( Down To Earth , Vol 4, No 15). The majority of government servants and politicians in India today are corrupt and are together destroying the forests. The conservators of forests are the culprits and a lot of public money is being spent on their salaries and other perks. Middlemen who are in collusion with forest officials are also beneficiaries.
Forests measuring hundreds of thousands of square kilometres go up in smoke as fires rage every summer, all over the country. The forest dwellers of the nation -- the adivasis, are hard working and if encouraged -- could save and guard the forests better. It is the duty of the government to provide the deprived people of the forest with safe drinking water, food and shelter. The government should decimate the forest departments and provide them with the minimum basic needs. If even a minute fraction of the forest department's budget were to be given to the adivasis, the savings in the form of forest wealth would be much higher. I appreciate and thank you for the noble work you are doing....
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