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QUENCHING THE THIRST OF THE STUDENTS
Irulappapuram is a suburban area in Nagercoil Town of Kanyakumari District. With a strength of 533, the students of the Govt. High School of Irulappapuram faced lot of difficulties in getting drinking water, as the existing water supply arrangement hardly sufficed the demand.
At this stage, an additional building was sanctioned under Operation Black Board, in this school. The building was constructed through KATTIDA MAYYAM. The district administration has embarked on a major drive to construct Rain Water Harvesting Structures in all the Govt. buildings. As part of the drive, one Rain Water Harvesting Structure was constructed in the additional school building with a capacity of 10,000 litres, which has put an end to the drinking water problem of the school.
VILLAGERS GETTING PERENNIAL WATER
The people of Sundapattivilai and Maavilai villages of Rajakkamanagalam Block depend on the Chembakulam channel for their basic requirements. The channel not only fulfills their bathing needs but also helps in recharging the adjoining drinking water wells.
But, of late, due to meager flow of water in the channel, the villagers face lot of difficulty, especially during summer.
Then the villagers came out with the idea of constructing a series of check-dams which will not only ensure availability of water throughout the year, but also recharge the wells along side the channel.
The proposal was readily accepted and the Collector gave sanction under small savings incentive scheme for the construction two check-dams, to begin with, which have been completed and put to use of the community.
Seeing the utility of the check-dams, the other villagers along the channel are now pressing for similar Water Harvesting Structures and the district administration has decided to sanction two more such check-dams.
WATER FOR THE TRIBALS
Pechipparai is a village panchayat with a sizable number of tribal population. Though the tribals are settled in the interior forests of the Western Ghats, which is blessed with lot of rain, they face acute shortage of drinking water reminding one of the situation, "Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink". This is because the entire rain water runs off the hills as there is no facility to retain the water.
During one of his camps to the tribal habitations, the people of KALAPPARAI Kani settlement represented to the Collector about the difficulty in getting drinking water and requested provision for the same.
As the tribal hutments are located in rocky and steep gradient terrain, it is very difficult to construct wells. And even if a well is constructed, it is not at all possible to pump the water through motor as there is no electricity in the tribal habitations which are located deep inside the Reserve Forest area. Then a meticulous arrangement was worked out whereby a small check-dam was constructed to retain the water. The check-dam was constructed well above the habitation so as to enable gravity flow of water down to the habitation. The water from the check-dam is brought to a syntex tank constructed in the habitation from where the tribals get water.
The tribals, who used to trek up and down the hills in search of water, under scorching sun, are delighted over the availability of water virtually at their doorsteps.
DIGNITY FOR WOMEN-THE VELLAMCODE EXPERIENCE
Vellamcode is a typical Village Panchayat of Melpuram Block in Kanniyakumari District. The major problem faced by the people of this village was non-availability of sanitation facilities. The village being a thickly populated one, people were put to untold misery for addressing the nature's call. Not to speak of the tale of woos of the womenfolk. The erstwhile allocation of Individual House Hold Latrines under CRSP hardly sufficed their requirements which were in hundreds.
It was at this juncture that Kanniyakumari district was selected under Total Sanitation Campaign.
A rapid survey was undertaken by District Rural Development Agency with the help of the Panchayat and a requirement of 500 IHHLs was arrived at.
Once the requirement was assessed, a series of awareness programmes were conducted, before actually commencing of the work. There were teething troubles in the initial stages.
Then, a meticulous strategy was worked out by the Village Panchayat and Good Vision, the participating NGO, wherein the supply of the sanitary material was made contingent on the digging of the soakpit by the beneficiary. This worked like magic. This arrangement not only quickened the construction of the latrine, but also ensured the participation of the beneficiary apart from preventing misuse of the material.
The enthusiastic village panchayat President, Mr.C.S.Rajan, put his heart and soul into it to ensure that all the 500 latrines are completed before 15.8.2002
Fortunately for Mr. Rajan, a second time President, the support from his panchayat ward members was total. Says Rajan, "I could not have ensured the completion of all the 500 latrines before 15.8.2002 but for the co-operation of our ward members. Political differences apart, when it concerns matters of common good, we are a homogeneous lot".
P. Johnson, the Block Panchayat Council member and a senior citizen of Vellamcode Panchayat shares his feelings thus, " I consider this scheme as a boon. I shudder to think of the days when men and women of our village used to have time slots to go out to answer nature's call, women to go out before 5.00 in the morning and menfolk afterwards. In the absence of house hold latrines, we were virtually at the mercy of the land owners to answer nature's call".
"There were occasions when men and women had to run away from the coconut grooves half-way through the routine, in the early hours, unable to bear the pelting of stones by the land lords who mistook them for coconut thieves" - painfully recalls Mr.Johnson.
"But things have changed completely now, thanks to this Sanitation Programme", quips the senior man with a sigh of relief. It will not be an exaggeration to say that this programme, apart from providing latrine, has also brought dignity to womenfolk.
Now, Vellamcode is a Village totally covered under Individual House Hold Latrine component. As a mark of honour, the Panchayat President of Vellamcode was awarded a citation and momento by the District Collector for having successfully completed the programme in his panchayat. Vellamcode, now has become a model to be emulated by other panchayats.
A big feat, in fact.
THE SADYAMANGALAM MODEL
When the Total Sanitation Campaign was conceptualized in Kanniyakumari District, Sadayamangalam, a tiny village Panchayat in Thuckalay Block, took the challenge and plunged into action. At this juncture, the DRDA assisted the panchayat by conducting door-to-door survey. The survey covered a population of 3184 in 854 households in the panchayat. When the demand list was finalized, the need to involve communities in the process was realized. Mr. D. Arulraj, the village panchayat chief took active interest with the consistent support of his ward members. The SHGs played an important role in promoting women's participation vigorously in planning and implementation. PIONEER, an NGO provided logistical support and helped people to be aware of the health-sanitation link and the evils of open air defecation. A cultural programme highlighting the dangers of open defecation was organized to create mass awareness.
Under the new strategy, all low cost sanitary materials needed for the construction were provided at the doorsteps. This facilitated all the 213 beneficiaries to take up latrine construction with ease. The picture has changed dramatically in the village with increased community involvement. The experience of Sadayamangalam Panchayat had made it a model for other panchayats of Thuckalay Block to follow suit. Maruthoorkurichi, Muthalakurichi, Kalkuruchi and Athivilai village panchayats were declared total sanitation Panchayats in due course. Now that 5 of the 7 village panchayats of Thuckalay Block have been fully covered under Sanitation, the entire Block is poised to become fully sanitized by at the dawn of the New Year. In recognition of having successfully implemented the programme, the village panchayat presidents were appreciated and honoured by the District Collector.
FROM THE SCORCHING SUN TO THE COMFORTABLE SHED THE STORY OF WASHERMEN SHG IN KANYAKUMARI
To begin with, a project was prepared taking into consideration the needs of the community with the technical assistance from the NABARD, Kanyakumari. Afterwards, the suppliers of the necessary equipments were contacted and the viability of the programme was assured. Since the capital intensive programme could be operated only as a group, a local NGO, Stella Marys Social Centre, Kanyakumari, was contacted and a Self Help Group was formed exclusively of washermen community. A common facility centre (work shed) was constructed under JGSY at a cost of Rs.1.75 lakhs. Two washing and one automatic drier units costing Rs.2.50 lakhs were purchased. This project was sanctioned under SGSY with a subsidy of Rs.1.25 lakhs given by DRDA and the remaining Rs.1,25,000/- provided as a loan by the Eraviputhoor Primary Agricultural Co-operative Bank. The highlight of the programme was the involvement of the Group members in every stage of the project i.e. from inception to implementation. This ensured a sense of participation. The details of managing the unit was prepared where the SHG members were to take the collective benefit and run it in turns, all the families washing their clothes in rotation. Now, the tortuous ordeal of back-breaking labour under the scorching sun is gone for the washermen of Eraviputhoor.
LIGHTING THE TRIBALS THROUGH RUBBER WASTE
Kanniyakumari district which was a part of erstwhile Travancore state commands an impressive topography with majestic hills, undulating surroundings, the plains bordered by colourful seashores and pristine water falls.
A. Tribe Living in Darkness:
A hill tribe, small in number known as 'Kanikar', dwells in the dense forests around the Pechiparai reservoir. There are 24 Kani habitations in Pechiparai Village panchayat. Each of the habitations consists of 20-25 households & most of them are poor and under privileged. By the frequent contact with the people of the plains, the primitive customs and habits of the hill tribes are fast changing. The Government and few voluntary organizations are taking various welfare measures for the upliftment of these tribes. Still they are deprived of reasonable health and sanitation facilities and basic amenities like electricity. The tribals cultivate Rubber, Tapioca, Pepper etc in their small holdings in the Forest. Some of the affluent tribals have installed rubber sheet processing rollers with Govt. assistance. Other small holders from the neighborhood form groups and get their rubber sheets processed at these units. Each unit processes 40-50 rubber sheets and the effluent produced is discharged in the holding itself leading to emission of foul odour in the locality.
B. Lamp is lit
Cultural Academy For Rural Development (CARD), a small NGO which works among these tribals came up with a novel proposal to provide lighting to the tribal dwellings by treating the effluent of the processed rubber sheet, anaerobic ally, by installing biogas plants. These biogas plants, apart from providing lighting for the tribals, will reduce environmental pollution and arrest the euanation of foul odour from the processed water of the rubber sheets.
The DRDA, Kanyakumari, immediately extended a helping hand, after the Biogas Technical Cell conducted the feasibility study. The beneficiaries whole heartedly offered to lend their support by way of labour. The DRDA sanctioned the proposal through the state sponsored "Village Self Sufficiency Scheme" to construct 3 units of 2 cubic metre capacity 'Deenabandhu model' biogas plants. The total cost of the project is Rs.84,000/- in which the contribution of the beneficiary is Rs.24,000. The tribal youths toiled to bring the construction materials like brick, sand, cement etc by headload by trekking 3-6 kms up hill. CARD, took up the construction and successfully commissioned all the 3 units. Each unit provides lighting to tribal houses and one community hall.
EXECUTION THROUGH NGOs
After food and clothing, shelter is the most important requirement of human being. Due to the high density of population, there is acute shortage of 'housing' in Kanyakumari District. The hitherto existing IAY schemes (construction of new houses and improvement of kutcha houses) could take care of only the BPL segment. It was at this juncture that, the GOI announced the Credit Cum Subsidy Scheme extending the benefits to people living marginally Above Poverty Line also subject to a ceiling of Rs.50,000/-.
The scheme envisages construction of a house with a maximum subsidy of Rs.10,000 and loan or own fund of Rs.40,000/-. The number of houses allotted for Kanyakumari District during 2001-2002 is 550. There were teething troubles in the initial stages. The bankers were reluctant to lend. It was then that the need to involve the SHGs and the NGOs was realized. It worked like magic. There are about 300 SHGs in Thiruvattar and Melpuram Blocks affiliated to Good Vision, a Non Government organization. This NGO has arranged for loans to the members of the SHGs to the tune of Rs.10,000 to 20,000 without waiting for bank loans. An amount of Rs.10,000 was met out of the savings fund of the SHGs. The contribution by the beneficiary was Rs.10,000. This, together with the subsidy of Rs.10,000 fetched the money which was enough to construct a residential unit. The SHG members of Good vision were able to construct 50 houses adopting this method.
Care Trust, another NGO, helped 45 beneficiaries construct their houses. This organization interacted with the banks on behalf of the beneficiaries and arranged for a loan of Rs.20,000 each. The organization lent Rs.10,000 to the beneficiaries. This amount, together with the group savings and subsidy of Rs. 20,000 was enough to construct a house at a total cost of Rs.50,000/-. The Youth groups of Nehru Yuva Kendra have also extended a helping hand and facilitated the construction of 28 houses with cost-effective technology in Mangadu Panchayat using stabilized mud blocks. On the whole, with the help of NGOs and NYK, 300 houses have been constructed under CCSS in Kanyakumari District.
HOUSES FOR THE POOR
After food and clothe shelter is the most important need of humanity. Hence both the Central and State Government attach lot of importance for bridging the housing gap. One of the major initiatives to address the "Housing gap" in rural area is the Indira Awass Yojana.
In Kanyakumari District under Indira Awass Yojana (New houses) houses have been taken up in the year 2002-2003 in all the 99 Village Panchayats. Normally, it takes 6-9 months for completing the construction of these houses in all respects and to make it ready for occupation by the beneficiaries. And there are instances where the construction has taken more than a year causing prolonged agony to the beneficiaries.
The prolonged construction period causes lot of difficulties for some of the beneficiaries who have to depend virtually on the mercy of the neighbours and relatives for their stay during the course of construction as the thatched huts in which they were living had to be dismantled for constructing the new houses.
In order to save the beneficiaries from this abject condition, the district administration decided to shorten the period of construction considerably. A strategy was worked out wherein the beneficiaries who can not afford to stay out for a longer period were identified for focused attention.
With concerted efforts, close monitoring and total involvement of the beneficiaries, we were able to complete the construction of 103 houses under IAY(new) in all respects in a record 60 days which were handed over to the beneficiaries on Independence Day, the 15th of August 2002.
Another 100 houses have since been completed and handed over to the beneficiaries by October 2nd, the birth anniversary of Mahathma Gandhi.
The progress of the remaining houses is also monitored with focused attention and the district administration has programmed to complete and hand over 500 houses to poor beneficiaries on 01.01.2003, the New Year day.
THE INNOVATIVE INITIATIVE OF KODIMUNAI FISHER WOMEN
An innovative project, artificial fattening of lobsters, has been launched in Kodimunai village of Kanyakumari district for the benefit of fisherwomen self help groups.
Normally, baby lobsters, which are caught along with other fish, are either thrown away or are sold for a pittance. But the fisherfolk of Kodimunai village decided to make a change with the help of Life Care Trust, an NGO engaged in the upliftment of fisherfolk.
Lobsters are one of the favoured amongst the sea-food items in the export market. It has got a ready market locally also. The baby lobsters, available at a cheaper rate, when fed and fattened in small tubs filled with sea water, attract a better price, ranging from Rs. 400 to Rs. 700 depending upon the size of the lobster. The technology for this project was obtained from Fisheries college, Tuticorin.
The DRDA, Kanyakumari, extended a helping hand and sanctioned Rs.1.04 lakhs under SGSY infrastructure component. This amount, together with the contribution of Rs. 26000 by the Self Help Group, was enough to take care of the infrastructural needs like the construction of a shed and 8 cement tubs for nurturing the baby lobsters, purchase of a motor and laying of pipelines for drawing sea water etc.
The project has earned an income of Rs. 25000 in the first year of operation. No wonder, THE HINDU, has reported about this project as the one, which is going to fatten the purse of fisherfolk of Kodimunai.
SHELTER FOR THE TRIBALS OF PEACHIPARAI
Kanniyakumari District has a sizable population of Tribal 'Kani' people living in the hilly tracts of the Western Ghats. They are mostly poor, eking out their livelihood out of usufructs of rubber trees and other forest produce.
Since time immemorial, the underprivileged kani tribals have been living in hutments made of mud, bamboo and leaves and are put to untold misery especially during the monsoon periods which last for almost 6 months. Their repeated pleas for improvement of their huts could not be met due to various factors like.
(a) Objections from the Forest Department, (as the entire area has been notified as Reserve Forest).
(b) Difficulty in the mobilization of materials as the area is not accessible by road and the materials have to be carried through boats.
(c) Difficulty in monitoring the execution of the works as the huts are scattered through out the hilly area. They also suffer due to frequent attacks on their crops by wild boars. Protected drinking water is also not generally available for them.
It was at this juncture, that the District Administration decided to utilise the 'Kutcha Houses' improvement scheme of IAY in a major way to improve the plight of kani Tribals.A quick assessment of the huts requiring immediate improvement was undertaken by the PECHIPPARAI PANCHAYAT and the Block officials and a priority list was prepared.
The District Collector and the Project Officer visited the area extensively and had interaction with the tribals so as to have a direct feedback of the problems of the tribals. After this visit, sanction was accorded for the construction of 257 houses under Improvement of unserviceable kutcha houses scheme (IAY - 2001-2002). Covering 23 tribal habitations.
Keeping in view the enormity of the job at hand and the operational hitches that lay ahead, the District Administration prepared an elaborate plan to ensure timely supply of materials and execution of works as per schedule.
Now, with the concerted efforts, all the kutcha houses have been improved resulting in the fulfillment of the long cherished wish of the tribals of PECHIPPARAI.
Now the district administration has forwarded a project to Ministry of Non Conventional energy sources , Government of India, to provide solar house lighting and street lighting facilities covering all the tribal habitations in a massive scale at a cost of Rs.1.72 Crores through TEDA (Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency).