E-Governance for Conservation

Iniernet kiosks in rural areas

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 26, 2006

 
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n-Logue  was established to serve the information and communications needs of people living in small towns and rural areas of India.

To rapidly scale its operations, the company employs a three-tiered business model based on the belief that delivery and management of Internet services should devolve to the level of the supply chain that comes closest to the user of the service. This decentralised model of operation draws, in large part, from the success of cable TV operations in India.

At the top level is n-Logue, which provides equipment, training and support to the LSPs(Local Service Providers) and kiosks, and also takes care of regulatory and connectivity issues.

At the second level, n-Logue identifies and partners with a local entrepreneur (also called a Local Service Provider or LSP) in every area it wishes to operate. These LSPs find subscribers, provide services and collect payments.

At the bottom level are the village kiosks, which provide services and information aimed at the rural market. With the help of n-Logue, the LSPs recruits the local entrepreneurs who set up the kiosks.

Thus there are up to three business entities involved in the operation - n-Logue, the LSP and a kiosk operator. All three must thrive for the operation to succeed.

Prof. Jhunjhunwallah of IIT Madras who is behind making available an Internet kiosk for just Rs 40,000 (around US$830) that could link up thousands of villages in the country has this to say

” Since we're talking about low investments we can create an army of rural entrepreneurs. They could avail of small loans to set up their own rural STD phone-cum-Internet centres," These small rural businessmen will be 50 per cent partners, and since they will be from the local areas in which they operate they will have far better contact with those with whom they work. In a 25km radius, they expect to find buyers for 500 to 700 connections. These may be individuals, government offices, schools and, most importantly, Internet kiosks that allow access to everyone. This level of operation should make a LSP viable, says Dr Jhunjhunwala.

Even if the numbers don't come in immediately, they will in a year's time when people start realising how new communication technologies empower them. Work towards this end is already underway at Cuddalore district, in India's southernmost province of Tamil Nadu. The technology is also being successfully implemented in Madurai (also in Tamil Nadu) and Dhar in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Likewise, the project is taking hold in Bagru of Rajasthan and Sangrur in north India. "We could have a million subscribers in three to four years. It's possible." Simultaneously, Jhunjhunwala is inspiring youngsters to work on rural Internet applications.

And also on offer is word-processing in the local Tamil language, a mail-client in Tamil, IRC (Internet Relay Chat) or voice-mail in the local language and an agricultural portal in the regional language. "We're adopting two key elements. Affordability, since everything is very low cost, and involving a local person in providing the solutions," says Professor Jhunjhunwala, explaining his model.

Thus far n-Logue has implemented the project in four centres. "The first-level feedback has been extremely encouraging. We have kiosks running in the middle of Madhya Pradesh where the average revenue a kiosk man makes is Rs 4,500 per month. Net of expenses, he makes Rs 3,000 per month, which makes him a rich man in that village,"

Interlinking of Rivers

Jawaharlal Nehru on large projects

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 25, 2006

 
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" The idea of doing big undertakings or doing big tasks for the sake of showing that we can do big things, is not a good outlook at all. For it is the small irrigation projects, the small industries and the small plants for electric power which will change the face of the country, far more than a dozen big projects in half a dozen places."

The then Prime minister drew his audience's attention to "the national upsets, upsets of the people moving out and their rehabilitation and many other things associated with a big project." These upheavels would be on a lesser scale in a smaller scheme, enabling the State to "get a good deal of what is called public co-peration".

-From a volume of Nehru's speeches on science and society, published 1988.

community reserves

Tribal Rights Bill

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 24, 2006

 
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On December1, 2005 the Union Cabinet gave its approval to the revised Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill.

One of the major changes in the final Bill is that the ambiguity in cut off date for determining tribal rights over land has been removed and October 25, 1980, has been made the cut-off date.

The second major change pertains to rights of tribals in national parks and sanctuaries. Tribal inhabitants would be given provisional pattas with a clear caveat that they could be relocated. "They would have right to acreage but not to land."

The third deviation is that forest officials would be involved at every stage in the process of granting land rights to tribals. Non-tribal forest dwellers will be settled according to the settlement rules of the environment and forests ministry.

There is no change in the long list of forest rights given to tribals as well as the provision that the right conferred shall be heritable but not alienable or transferable. Similarly, there is no change as far as duties -most concerning conservation of flora and fauna-of the holder of forest rights are concerned.

E-Governance for Conservation

West Bengal Grameen Sanchar Sewak Scheme

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 08, 2006

 
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The Grameen Sanchar Sewak (GSS) scheme, kickstarted by BSNL and the Department of Posts in 2002, is ready to be regularised and go national.

The GSS scheme, which began with the idea of employing rural postmen to carry mobile phones from door-to-door in 12,001 villages, has tapped into the 7,000-strong network of self-employed people that Grasso( Grameen Sanchar Society)-a non-governmental organization -uses to carry phones to far-flung locations. 

Grasso-subsidized by BSNL for the gSS scheme- has provided mobile reach to 93% of West Bengal's 34 blocks.  They are now planning Common Service Centres(CSCs) in the State's 3,357 gram panchayats.  The CSCs are to be a hu for about 20 services, ranging from electriity bill payment, tea and coffee to commodity trading, warehousing and cold storage. 

Interlinking of Rivers

Centre shelves Pamba-Vaippar river-linking project

Posted by Susan Sharma on January 07, 2006

 
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The Union Government has shelved the controversial project to link the Pamba and Achenkovil rivers of Kerala with Vaippar river in Tamil Nadu. The Kerala Legislative Assembly and the State Government have been appealing to the Union Government to give up the river linking project. The letter from the Union Government says: "It has taken note of the resolution of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and has decided not to treat the Pamba-Achenkovil-Vaippar Link as a priority link, for consensus-building purpose."

Tiger Task Force Report

National Tiger Conservation Authority

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 18, 2005

 
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The Cabinet on 16/12/05 approved the constitution of a National Tiger Conservation Authority.

Contrary to rising hopes and expectations that the Prime Minister will head the Tiger Conservation Authority, it is the Environment Minister who will head the authority.

The Authority will get statutory and administrative powers to implement the recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.

Tiger Task Force Report

IWC Chat

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 18, 2005

 
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The topic for our monthly chat on 18December 2005 was "Tiger Task Force Report".

You can read the chat transcript at the following link

http://www.indianwildlifeclub.com/mainsite/ChatTranscript.asp

Those of you who missed the chat, are welcome to write your comments in this blog.

Tiger Task Force Report

Read the report!

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 18, 2005

 
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The Tiger Task Force has submitted its report. The report brings out some glaring facts. Read the report at this link

http://projecttiger.nic.in/TTF2005/contents.htm

"In the last 30 years, only 80-odd villages have been relocated from all 28 reserves. There are another 1,500 existing inside, of which 250 are within core areas of tiger reserves, which must be relocated. Relocating them will cost Rs 660 crore at the minimum, in terms of the meager relocation package government works with today, and without accounting for land costs. If this is taken into account, then the estimated cost is Rs 11,000 crore. "

What is suggested is a time-bound programme to identify those villages that must be relocated because  they are located inside crucial tiger habitats. It is also suggested that, unlike the past, this relocation must be done speedily and sensitively, "with careful consideration of the needs of people."

The chair person also says that if we do not make peace with the communities who share the tigers’ home, we will lose the war of conservation tiger by tiger.

Identifying the cause for a crisis situation is certainly the first step towards a solution. Let us think solutions now! How can we have the communities become stakeholders in tourism for example? Any suggestions?

Interlinking of Rivers

Polavaram Project-Controversy

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 16, 2005

 
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The Orissa government has objected to the construction of the Polavaram project on the ground that the 150 ft high dam will submerge several villages and agricultural lands in that State and displace hundreds of tribal families and others. T

The Orissa Chief Minister has addressed letters to the A.P Chief Minister resenting the latter’s decision to go ahead with the execution of the project without consulting Orissa. The letter to the Central Water Commission expresses ire at the clearances given without referring them to his government.

It is understood that construction has started based on a 1980 interstate agreement signed by the three riparian states-Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. In the intervening 25 years the cost of rehabilitation and resettlement would have gone up considerably. A meeting between the two Chief Ministers is likely to settle the issue politically.

Interlinking of Rivers

Polavaram -linking Godavari and Krishna

Posted by Susan Sharma on December 12, 2005

 
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The report prepared by the NWDA(National Water Development Agency) on the 174km Polvarm link,  is available at the following link ( Please cut and paste in your browser)

http://nwda.gov.in/index3.asp?sublink2id=12

Chapter 14 of the report talks about the environmental and ecological impact of the project. The Polavaram reservoir submerges an area of 63,691 ha comprising of 60,063 ha in Andhra Pradesh, 2,398 ha in Chattisgarh and 1,230 ha in Orissa. Out of the total submergence area, the area under cultivation is about 30,650 ha and the forest area 3,705 ha. It is obvious that the project involves the displacement of a huge agricultural population most of them from Andhra.

To quote the report

"The main purpose of the Polavaram project is to provide water for irrigation to the ayacut upstream of the Godavari barrage, to supply drinking water to the Visakhapatnam steel plant and also to provide water to the chronic drought prone Cheepurupalle tract in which the manganese belt is situated ...........

"Submergence of forest area may have environmental and ecological impact: Proper Environmental Management Plan (EMP) will be evolved to reduce the impact on the environment due to the project. Also, to minimise the loss of forest additional afforestation programme will be taken up. Necessary provision has been made in the estimate for compensatory afforestation".

"The prospects of submergence leading to loss of homes and means of sustenance will have a traumatic effect on the affected population. The problems relating to resettlement and rehabilitation (R & R) are quite complex. It is essential that the contents of R & R package should be very attractive".

"A total of 16207 families are likely to be affected due to creation of Polavaram reservoir. These families would need to be resettled in different villages in the nearby areas. To avoid dispute and problems, the selection of suitable agricultural land in the command area and its division into required sizes and its distribution by draw of lot with the control of a High Level Committee comprising senior officers of concerned departments should be performed. In the case of Polavaram-Vijayawada link project, 30650 ha of culturable area is coming under the submergence of the proposed reservoir at Polavaram. Therefore, at least an equivalent area of land has to be acquired, suitably in the command area of the project for encouraging to carry out the normal agricultural activities by the affected families".

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