- The payments to job doers are being made through banks or post offices. While we support that move for reasons of transparency and truthfulness, we are forced to lose valuable productive time and energy in going to the banks and post offices for transactions as they are situated at quite a distance from the places where we live and are always crowded. Thus the days on which we go to Post Offices or Banks to withdraw money should be counted as work days and full wage for that day must be given to us. In addition, we must be given travel allowance for our return travel to the Banks and Post offices.
- Farm ponds should be excavated in the farm lands of all BPL households and other poor households within the next five years.
Comprehensive agriculture and water harvesting plans needed
- Western Orissa is considered as the rice bowl of the state. But agriculture in spite of being the income mainstay still largely depends of rainfall. Thus agriculture and water supply requires topmost priority.
- A five year strategic agriculture development plan for our area should be prepared accordingly. Government development initiatives must centre around land development; rain water harvesting and storages; and development of the agriculture sector.
- Low cost agriculture practices must be given the priority to make agriculture sustainable. Indigenous seed conservation, land management, local technology and wisdom must be given priority in development of agriculture.
- The agriculture policy should be suitably amended to give more focus to other regional crops along with paddy.
- Crop losses due to drought and monsoon aberrations have increased. But drought is yet to be included in the ‘relief code’. Drought must be categorized as disaster and included in the relief code.
- Agriculture extension services have failed to reach the target communities. All agriculture extension measures must be village oriented. Policies should be amended to make clustures as the preferred unit of agriculture extension.
- Agriculture must be integrated with the Panchayatiraj system. All agriculture plans must be integrated with the annual action plan of the Panchayats. All these plans must be approved and accepted by the Pallisava and Gramsava.
- Pricing of paddy needs constant and thorough revision. Farmers take great deal of risks during the farming process. Often such risks are not properly compensated. Thus, risk factors, in addition to other present price-fixing mechanisms, must be considered while deciding on prices.
- No land is unfit for vegetative growth or environment conservation. We cannot buy the arguments that as some lands are unfit for agriculture they can be used for industrial purposes. We belief that such type of land will have better environmental and economic value if put into water harvesting or other environmental use than industrial use.
Right on forest and forest produces
- Many deserving forest dwellers have not been able to apply for rights under ‘The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006’ due to lack of awareness or other reasons. Thus the Act must not be confined to specific time period as it is aimed for people who are least capable in getting information and asserting rights.
- The Panchayatiraj department should formulate comprehensive plans and earmark budget to carry out the settlements made by the Village Forest Committee and Panchayatiraj department.
- Community Forest Management (CFM) must be given legal recognition.
- The Orissa Village Forest Act, 1985 must be suitably amended to give total right over kenduleaf and other forest non-timber forest produces. The ‘Vana Sanrakshana Suraksha Samiti’ system should be completely dismantled and CFMs should be given full legal recognition.
- All kenduleaf pluckers must be brought under proper and honorable life insurance cover.
Water Conservation and Drinking water supply
- Water conservation is the need of the time, not just for agriculture but for the sustainability of the society. There was a rich water harvesting tradition – with networks of kata, muda, bandh, chua, chahala etc. – in Western parts of Orissa. But many of those structures have died or lost values due to consistent neglect. All those structures must be restored to proper order and new water harvesting structures be created. A clear roadmap with fixed timeframes must be prepared for integrated water harvesting.
- Drinking water is emerging as a very big concern. Neglect of surface water harvesting and over dependence on ground water is the major reason causing such concerns. The government must give priority to surface water sources as the preferred drinking water source.
- Such water needs to be supplied to each household after proper treatment.
- In absence of proper surface water source, open dug wells may be preferred above deep tube wells as source for drinking water.
Safe sanitation is our right
- Sanitation, especially rural sanitation, has been grossly neglected. We welcome the government’s initiatives under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC). But grassroots implementation of the TSC has been far from satisfactory.
- APL-BPL division is a hindrance to total sanitation initiative. We demand that there should not be any distinction between APL and BPL families under the TSC. The subsidy component for the BPL families has been used by vested interests to construct toilets without any household participation. That has led to construction of inferior toilets. The usage rate of such toilets has been very dissatisfactory.
- We demand that all such unusable toilets constructed without involvement of the beneficiary households be reconstructed again with total household participation.
- All toilets must also come with water supply.
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