The Chhattisgarh Water Centered PESA Awareness Campaign is a joint initiative of PRIA, Arghyam,Social Revival Group of Urban Rural and Tribal –SROUT,DISHA SamajSeviSanstha,Path Pradarshakand JankalyanSamajikSansthan.The campaign will cover 80 villages from 40 panchayats across 8 blocks and 4 districts. The three districts of Korba, Sarguja and Kaker are completely scheduled areas, while Rajnandgaon is a partial scheduled area.
In each district, 2 blocks which fall under the scheduled areas have been identified.From each block, 5 panchayats and from each panchayat 2 villages will be the intensive site for the campaign.The aim is to cover atleast 50% of the population of the intervening villages.
The campaign will be conducted over 2 months:
The campaign will focus on enhancing awareness of:
Gram sabhamembers, and panchayat, block and district representatives are the key constituents to be addressed during the campaign, with special focus on tribal women and the poor and vulnerable sections of the tribal community.
It is envisaged that the campaign will be successful in not only generating awareness about PESA provisions but ensuring the rights of the gram sabha members are met and their participation enhancedin managing their water sources. As a result of the campaign, it is hoped water related issues are included in the gram sabhaannual plan and gram sabhas are conducted effectively.
Roots of the Campaign:
Wateris critical to life.It is however scarce and thusneeds to be managed effectively. The Scheduled V tribal areas of Chhattisgarh are facing problems related to access to regular and clean drinking water, and adequate water for farming purposes.Pollutants and contamination of water sources has severe negative effects on the health as well as agriculture production of the tribal communities. In this context the role of the state, industry as well the community becomes very important to effectively address this water problem.
The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (also known as PESA)is a landmark legislation for tribal communities. It promotes people-centric governance and provides a central role to the gram sabha. Under PESA it is mandatory that states having scheduled areas make specific provisions for giving wide‐ranging powers to tribals on matters related to decision‐making and development of their community. In Chhattisgarh, however, no rules have been framed to operationalize PESA, and even though Chhattisgarh’s legislation on Panchayati Raj was amended in 1997 to incorporate special provisions to reflect the spirit of PESA, the same has not been effectively implemented.This lack of implementation of PESA provisions has led to the strengthening of state control over common natural resources and weakening of the tribal community’srights over natural resources.
Since December 2011 PRIA, in collaboration with SROUT, Korba and with the support of Arghyam, Bangalore, has been pursuing an action research intervention in Chhattisgarh on implementation of PESA provisions, with special focus on water management issues.The first year interventions havedemonstrated the ineffective status of gram sabhasand lack of involvement of gram sabhamembers in the process of planning and managing minor water bodies. It has also reflected alack of adequate understanding of PESA among the relevant state departments, coupled with lack of political will or commitment to implement PESA provisions.This has reaffirmed the need to build pressure on the State machinery to undertake necessary action to ensureeffective implementation of PESA in Chhattisgarh.
The campaign will include 2 days of intensive awareness generation in each panchayat.
Methodology for awareness generation, mobilization and information dissemination will include: songs, slogans, bicycle rally, padyatra, nukadnatak, small group meetings, dissemination of posters and pamphlets, wall writing, etc. Special efforts will be made to ensure that the communication methods are rooted in the tribal culture and build on their traditional forms of communication.The active participation of the community as champions of the campaign will be ensured, with structured effortsto include mahilamandal members, youth groups and students.
In addition,sensitisation and participation ofthe district administration and staff of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe development department, Panchayati Raj department and water related line departments (i.e., Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and Water Resource Department (WRD)) will be ensured.