Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Milan Mela: An Attempt to Connect the Community Based Organizations with the Rural Consumer Market Segment in Sagar Block

Livelihood development for the disadvantaged sections in Sagar Block interlinked with robust market channels is one of the focus areas of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project in West Bengal. The entire livelihood component may be classified into three main sub-components e.g.
Capacity Building on trade specific skill sets along with institution building for the coastal community at large.
Construction of Micro – Coastal Infrastructures as part of Entry Point Activities and
Promotion of Income Generation Activities through various trade specific livelihood options 

Consultant NGOs engaged under ICZMP had been acting as facilitators to the CBOs to undertake the above-mentioned activities. The success of any livelihood development programmes depends to a large extent on the magnitude of integration of the CBOs’ mainstreaming with that of market dynamics. Stability in livelihood will not only generate income for consumption and production over a period of time, but in the process it may contribute in enhancement of asset ownership, self-esteem, social participation and recognition of the CBO members in perpetuity. Integration can happen only when linkages both forward and backward with respect to different trades have been established and are deeply entrenched. Both the Entry Point Activities and Income Generation Activities are being/to be directly financed as the case may be from the State Project Management Unit to the contracted CBOs, whose members are mostly in an economically disadvantageous position. Capacity building programmes organized by the consultant NGOs had capacitated to a certain extent the community to do justice to their contractual obligation for execution of Entry Point Activities and Income Generation Activities along with other bank/ MFI financed or with own equity backed Income Enhancement Plans.

Paribesh Unnayan Parishad (PUPA), consultant NGO mentoring Dasparasumatinagar I Gram Panchayat on the basis of the understanding that its mentored CBOs needed market orientation in an organized manner had organized a CBO/ SHG fair entitled “Milan Mela” on 21st- 22nd February, 2015 in the premises of Mahendragaunj-Nagendragaunj Abaitanik Prathamik Vidyalaya, Dasparasumatinagar I Gram Panchayat, Sagar Block, South 24 Parganas.
The fair was inaugurated by Sri Asok Kr Jana, Karmadhyaksha, Sagar Panchayat Samity. Sri Tapan Kr Sardar, Panchayat Pradhan, Sri Ajit Das, Upo-Pradhan along with other members of the Gram Panchayat namely Sri Anup Bera, Sri Pashupati Ari, Smt. Shankari Bayen, Km. Gouri Ghosh graced the occasion. Leading face of Dasparasumatinagar I Gram Panchayat on social issues e.g. Smt. Sagarika Das and Sri Tarun Kr Patra (Headmaster of Mahendraganj – Nagendraganj Primary School) were also present during the inauguration of the fair.  Dr. Santanu Mitra and Smt. Sunita Das, Lecturer of Women Polytechnic and Sri Kanchan Majumdar, Block Welfare Officer, Sagar Block also graced the fair on 22nd February, 2015.
The fair was the culmination of the different Training and Capacity Building exercises (e.g. SHG management, bank linkages, business & entrepreneurship development, vocational training: poultry, pisiculture, betel leaf cultivation, organic farming, paper made crafts, tailoring, food processing, Batik printing and so on targeted especially towards the SHG women) organized by PUPA under ICZMP for the last two and a half years. These types of fairs showcase the various livelihood opportunities that are being explored by the CBO/SHG members e.g. Batik printing, food processing, production of fancy domestic items from low cost material and etc. Milan Mela provided the SHG/CBO members mentored under ICZM Project the much needed exposure to a slice of rural market segment coupled with in subjective terms the qualitative contribution of the NGO namely PUPA in CBO based community development and skill enhancement. Members of SHGs/ CBOs from the six revenue villages of Dasparasumatinagar I Gram Panchayat had got the chance in Milan Mela to initiate dialogue for ways of augmentation of their well-being through sustained livelihood options.

The said fair was a collaborative effort of over 75 SHGs covering six revenue villages with nearly 1300 participants. The CBOs had participated either in trade or in cultural cum sports meet or in both. The fair provided the members of these CBOs to know each other’s domain of expertise, trading patterns, requirement of working capital etc. The series of incessant interactions amongst the SHGs created the much needed trust, social bonding and networking which had paved the way for expansion of social capital formation in the Gram Panchayat.
The two day fair had put on display a plethora of hand made products and edibles straight from the coffers of the village women. Apart from agricultural products, craft items were also showcased. One of the primary objectives of the fair was to exhibit and promote women empowerment and their cultural products manifested in the form of traditional arts and crafts, apart from the sale of farm and non-farm products. There were 12 out of 16 stalls (Dasparasumatinagar I Gram Panchayat has 16 sansads) which were allotted to the 14 CBOs to showcase their products and services. 
The major items that were put on display:
Handmade Batik printed sarees and dress materials                                                                                 
Paper made tray, lamp shades, wall hanging, notebook holders, bags, photo frames.
Organically cultivated vegetables and cereals 
Soft Drinks (without preservatives) made of Amla; Banana pepped with Mango flavour and etc.
Organic manure

Panoramic view of the Mila Mela

 Glimpses of the Items and services that were traded in the Mila Mela

Pickles, Sauce, Bori and Papad

Organically cultivated vegetables and cereals

Sarees , “Panjabis” and handkerchiefs

Opening of zero balance accounts in Bangiya Gramin Vikash Bank under Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana

Hand stitched textile product

Fruit Juice - Banana Juice pepped with Mango flavour along with Potato chips, Green Banana Chips and etc.

Saplings of Coconut, Mango, Guava, Flower and etc.

Paper made tray, lamp shades, wall hanging, and notebook holders

Bori and Papad

Organic manure
The Milan Mela was further spiced up with the introduction of a Sport Meet, where women of different ages had participated enthusiasm. As age was no bar, some elderly women, who could never imagine of playing outdoor games because of social inhibitions, took part in spoon race and musical chair.

Some indoor events were also conducted:
Simple Mathematical problem solving related to revolving of fund and computation interest income. 
Extempore speech
Drafting of minutes of a SHG Meeting
The evening session of the fair witnessed cultural programmes that included songs, dance, short dramas on child marriage and sweet-sour relationship between mother –in- laws & daughter- in- laws. Members from the SHG/ CBO staged the dramas by themselves in a bid to promote social awareness among the community members. 

Drawing competition mostly among young women was also conducted. Focus area of the drawing competition was to mine women who can produce aesthetically sound design templates to be used in Batik printing. These latent talents might be harnessed as a skilled workforce for commercial production of colourful batik printed garments, bags, household linens, murals and wall paintings that adds elegance and style not only to an individual persona but also in the realm of interior furnishings and decoration. These talent pools within the community may be extended to the production of handicrafts too.
Major outcomes of the CBO/SHG fair:- 
Instilling a sense of collective approach and understanding on the resultant benefits that shared initiatives can accrue to the disadvantaged womenfolk of the area- resonating “United We Stand’.
Providing a platform to the coastal community to showcase their skills in development of various home-based products.
Free consultancy services to the women CBO/SHG members with respect to exchange of technical expertise, development of management and marketing skills and strategies that may yield tangible results in near future.
Committed and synergistic production, marketing and institutional arrangements do offer considerable savings in transaction costs to the participating SHGs/CBOs.
SHG/ CBO representatives’ interaction to identify leverage points for socially responsible business models.
Support in the strengthening of human and social capital integrated with the livelihoods services involving the SHG/ CBO members across the value-chains of key products and services 
Achievement of a certain degree of social & economic empowerment by the members of the SHGs/ CBOs.
Promotion of financial linkages for the SHG/ CBO members.
Mining of new talents from the community with reference to the undernoted domains:-
Mathematical and Logical Intelligent Quotient 
Leadership and management of group dynamics

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Exposure visit to the project sites under India- ICZM Project in Gujarat

A team of officials from this state headed by Dr. Subrat Mukherjee, IFS, Project Director, ICZM Project – West Bengal had visited the project sites under India - ICZM Project located in the state of Gujarat from 23rd-26th January, 2015. The objective of the exposure visit to Gujarat was primarily to observe and learn the initiatives launched in Gujarat for coastal zone management by stabilizing environmental degradation, measures to protect coastal areas, strengthening of institutional capabilities for coastal zone planning and development along with the extent to which the complementary and supplementary roles the assets created so far may play for fostering the spirit of sustainable development. The visiting team apart from the Project Director includes Sri Asok Kumar Maity, Administrative Officer, SPMU- ICZMP, Sri S. Dutta, Superintendent Engineer (Rural Electrification), WESEDCL and Sri Rakesh Ranjan, Project Engineer – II, SIDCL.

The team had visited Poshitra Coral site and Narara Coral Reclamation site. Poshitra Coral site is near Okha while Narara, is about 60 Km from Jamnagar. The visiting team had the opportunity to glance over the exotic treasure-trove of marine and avian species that floats and unwinds in a carefree manner in both the sites. Both the sites are known for its stunning display of live coral, live shell, algae plants, live oyster, glamorous marine flowering plants, puffer fish, sea horse, huge green sea turtles, lobsters, crabs, dolphins, octopus, jelly fish, star fish and etc. 

The team had interactions with its counterpart from Gujarat SPMU in order to have a broader understanding of conservation of marine biodiversity vis-à-vis the issues of industrialization and tourism management. It is be noted that Gujarat Ecological Education and Research (GEER) Foundation - an autonomous organization with the Forests & Environment Department of Government of Gujarat is also acts as a PEA under ICZMP- Gujarat is in the process of developing the methodology of coral transplantation. Marine National Park & Sanctuary, another PEA under ICZMP- Gujarat will implement the physical implementation of Coral Transplantation based on the methodology developed by GEER Foundation in collaboration with technical inputs from Zoological Survey of India. The fulfillment of the said activity would accrue the following benefits:-
  • Enrichment of biodiversity
  • Containment of coastal erosion
  • Acts as a natural shield against calamities like tsunami, storm surges and etc.
  •  Augmentation of marine fishery production

The team also visited Jamnagar Sewage Treatment Plant Project sites. Jamnagar Municipal Corporation is the implementing agency under ICZMP. The entire work component of construction of sewage network along with the Sewage Treatment Plant is being implemented by the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation. The team had discussions on pollution management, user charges and sustainability models that may be implemented in the post project period.
Indeed the recently concluded exposure visit provides a platform to the policy makers to deliberate on developmental paradigms that may be implemented and sustained for a longer span of time with the aid and support of the coastal community at large.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ICZMP & Digha Beach Festival, 2014

Digha is now one of the prime tourist destinations of West Bengal. Govt. of West Bengal each year organizes Digha Beach Festival, to promote tourism related activities in an around Digha area.

This year ICZM Project too made its presence felt in the Digha Beach Festival.

The opening session of this Festival was graced by the important dignitaries of the State namely

1) Sri Subhendu Adhikary, Hon'ble MP, Haldia & Chairman, HDA

2) Sri Soumen Mahapatra, Hon'ble MIC, Water Investigation and Development, Govt. of West Bengal

3) Sri Ranajit Mondal, Hon'ble MLA, Khejuri

4) Smt. Banashree Maity, Hon'ble MLA, Kanthi Uttar

5) Sri Ajit Ranjan Bardhan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism Department, WB

6) Shri Bhishmadeb Dasgupta , Managing Director, WBTDCL, WB

7) Smt. Antara Achariya, DM, Purba Medinipur

8) Sri Soumen Pal, Executive Officer, DSDA

9) Sri Tomojeet Chakraboty, BDO, Ramnagar - I

10) Sri Pritam Saha, BDO, Ramnagr - II

11) Miss Madhurima Mondal, Sobhadhipoti, Purba Medinipur Zilla Parishad

12) Sri Debobrata Das, Karmadhakshya, Fishery & Forest

13) Sri Netai Sar, Shabhapoti, Ramnagar - I Block

One of the main attractions of the festival was the beautiful Sand-Art work of Sudarshan Pattanayak created along the beach. Several sporting events were also organized with the aid of Bengal Olympic Association. The evening session of the Beach Festival were garnished with musical and dance performances of different artists of repute.

This year ICZM project launched awareness campaign in Digha Beach Festival 2014.The mass awareness campaign has the following important ingredients/features.

1.    Performances of the “Ronpa” (traditional Bengali folk dance) group along the shoreline of Digha.

2.    Slogan Contest, hinges around the pressing coastal issues.

3.    Computer mediated quiz contest

4.    Performances of “Potua” group – (scroll painters and singers). The focal theme of the scroll paintings and songs revolve around the importance of afforestation and also negating the usage of plastics from our daily life.

It is to be noted that ICZMP’s innovative approach to connect to the local populace has been appreciated from different sections. The need of the hour is to sustain this momentum, so that the messages of eco-friendly sustainable development for the sake of coastal well-being can be actualized within a legitimate time frame.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

                             Exposure Visit to Gujarat

India ICZM Project’s one of the cardinal features is to achieve the formation of some kind of knowledge-base and benchmarks about the various the parameters pertaining to the coast which can be integrated into the ICZM Plan. In this regard India ICZM Project has provisions for conducting study tours and exposure visits for its stakeholders both within and outside the national boundaries of India.

West Bengal-SPMU has recently organized an exposure visit to the state of Gujarat where also India ICZM project is being implemented in full swing. A team of 8 members visited Gujarat from 5th- 9th,  March, 2014. The members of the delegation comprises of

 (1)Ms. Indrani Saha, Joint Secretary, Urban Development Department),

(2)Mr. Saibal Thakurata, Chief Town Planner, Urban Development Department

(3)Mr. Satyajit Pan, Executive Engineer, PHED

(4)Mr.Swapan Mondal, Asst. Engineer, PHED

(5) Mr.Amlan Jyoti Saha, Asst. Director, Tourism Dept

(6)Mr. Md. Samimul Alam, Asst. Secretary, Tourism Dept

(7)Mr. Niltaratan Mitra, Programme Assistant, SPMU, West Bengal

(8)Mr. Debojoyti Poddar, Project Assistant (Accounts), SPMU, WB.

After reaching Ahmedabad on 5th March, 2014 the visiting team was briefed by the counterparts of SPMU, Gujarat about the set of activities implemented in the state of Gujarat under India ICZM Project. The presentation of Gujarat, SPMU, highlighted the challenges that they have faced during the implementation of different project components together with the successes that have been achieved till now.

 The team headed towards Jamnagar on 6th march 2014. Jamnagar happens to be one of the key intervention areas where India ICZM Project had already made its indelible footprint in Gujarat. The visiting team had interactions with an interaction at MNP office with DCF, MNP and ACF, MNP and other Marine National Park officials about their experiences in the management of the Marine National Park (MNP). The team also had the opportunity to meet representatives from Jamnagar Municipal Corporation to make themselves acquainted themselves with the on-going civil work of the sewerage network, along with the sewerage  pumping station and sewerage treatment  plant. Later in the day the team had visited different sites where the physical work pertaining to the sewage network system is being carried-out or had been completed.

 On 7th March, 2014 the team visited Narara Island (about 65 KM from Jamnagar for doing the Coral Walk), which comes under the jurisdiction of Marine National Park. A huge variety of marine life e.g. crabs, jelly fish, star fish, hard and soft corals, molluscan shells, sea anemones, puffer fish, sea horse, octopus, huge green sea turtles, lobsters, pearl oysters, bivalves, dolphins and dugong can be seen in this areaCoral restoration and regeneration is being carried out in Narara under India ICZM Project. MNP officials brief the team about the important of this sensitive eco-system. The team observed the plethora of marine flora and fauna that thrives in the park. The main point of attraction over here is viewing of the live corals of different shades and hues.

On 8th March the team visited the sea-turtle hatching center  in Okha Madhi near Dwarka, which is also being managed by MNP in the capacity of a PEA under SPMU, Gujarat. The objective of this component is to promote the breeding & preserving of this threatened marine species. The team had also visited Marine Interpretation Center at Nagesh Garden near Nageshwar Temple. It is developed by MNP for bringing awareness about marine lives. The team has also the opportunity to visit Kharaberaj Village on to observe extent of work being done with respect to sanitation. This village has achieved 100% sanitation courtesy  ICZM Project. The team has  also interacted with the CBO president and other members along with field staffs.

The team departed from Ahmedabad on 9th March 2014 for Kolkata, with an everlasting memory of how to assimilate and integrate natural resources for sustainable development. 

Monday, January 27, 2014


Mass Awareness Campaign in Gangasagar Mela

Kapil Muni Temple
Gangasagar Mela is one of the mega religious congregations in India that happen every year in Sagar Island, located in the state of West Bengal. Government of West Bengal plays a cardinal role in the successful fructification of the Gangasagar Mela each year where teeming millions assemble in banks of “Gangasagar” especially on Makarsankranti ( 14th January, 2014) to attain divine salvation.
Mass awareness campaign with members of NGOs and CBOs

It can be stated that despite the best of the services rendered by district administration in close coordination with the aid of the NGOs but more to be done from the perspective of coastal environment while keeping in mind the behavioural dynamics of the multitude that gathers from the remotest corners of the country in and around the Gangasagar Mela ground.

Colourful display of the RON-PA group in the Mela ground

Sagar Island is one of the core intervention areas under ICZM Project. Hence it was decided to launch an effective mass awareness campaign in the precincts of Gangasagar Mela which will be populated with people of different shades and hues. The mass awareness campaign was formally launched with the speech of Sri Bankim Hazra, Honourable MLA, Sagar and Chairman Sundarban Development Board on 14th January, 2014.

The central theme of the mass awareness campaign was to spread the message of pollution free coastal environment. State Project Management Unit of the ICZM Project coordinated with its partner NGOs and its CBOs to spearhead the mass awareness campaign in every nook and crannies of the Mela ground.

The mass awareness campaign got the requisite stimulus with the integration of the performances of the RON-PA (folk dance) group attired with several messages on hygiene and sanitation. Wherever the RON-PA permeates through the muddy and brick roads inside the Mela ground people zooms in with loud applause and inquisitiveness. Members of the partner NGOs and its CBOs too crisscross the Mela ground with the RON-PA group. Banners were displayed; leaflets were distributed together with the mesmerizing performances of the RON-PA group that enthralled the public at large. It can be claimed without an iota of doubt that ICZM Project had able to create an indelible mark in the minds of the people through this new innovative approach of reaching out to its target audience.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Absence of a properly implemented drainage system is causing adverse effect on the hygienic condition in the town of Digha. The drains are too few and were constructed mainly to flush out excess water during high tides. More importantly, the drains also are carrying sullage water and the polluted water is discharged into the sea causing appreciable deterioration in the quality of sea water.

It is a fact that the area lying near the sea coast is mainly of silty sand allowing high rate of percolation of surface run off to ground for which widespread water logging is not in evidence in the area till now, yet with the town getting more populated day by day, incidence of tourists visit looking up along with hotels and institutional buildings getting concentrated in localized area, the need for commissioning an engineered drainage system has been badly felt to discharge the water efficiently into the sea without causing any harmful effect on the environment.

Such a drainage system will exclude any chance of water logging and at the same time will offer a clean and pleasant look for the town. Covered surface drains, to be built with brick masonry and concrete cover, have been designed and planned for implementation at Digha only to collect the surface run off and carry the water by gravity flow.
Sankarpur, being sparsely populated and having a very few hotels / lodges all surrounded by vast expanse of agricultural lands, has been left out of such drainage facility at present.
Construction of storm water drains is an allowed item under CRZ regulation.
To take care of the septic waste separate scheme under PHED has been developed for setting up of STP and development of underground sewerage lines.
For the storm water drainage scheme under DSDA, the project area is basically divided into 2 parts, one the seaside, and the other landside of the foreshore road. The seaside being sloped towards the sea, so it was advisable to follow the outfall at “Jatra Nala” the major outfall of this area.

But the seaside of the old Digha is too far to drain it to this Nala. Considering the proposed landscape of the beach front it was not advisable to drain it to the sea. It will be diverted towards the landside along the main road leading to the major outfall of the landside that is the canal along the newly constructed bye-pass. Most of the landside portions naturally tend to slope towards the drainage canal of the bypass making it an easy and natural drainage system without the help of any mechanical means.
As per the available data, an average intensity of rainfall of 50 mm/hr has been considered. The design has been done as per the rainfall data collected, time of concentration, the graph of the CPHEEO manual and the empirical formulas developed for the most towns situated in the Indian plains.                       
As per CPHEEO manual the residential, commercial and greenery has 75%, 90% and 20% respectively of imperviousness.

Considering the proposed development according to the CRZ rules, it was assumed that the project area will be divided into different zones.
·         Zone 1 : Already built to an average of 30-40% and will remain same.
·         Zone 2 : Already built to an average of 50-60% but considered to be 80% in future.
·         Zone 3 : Very less built form, with public buildings and so may develop to 30% built form in future.
·         Zone 4 : Existing open and green area on sea which will remain to be green (20%).
·         Zone 5 : Heavily built new digha area of average 50-60% but considered to be 90% in future.
·         Zone 6 : Existing open and green area on sea which will remain to be green (20%).
·         Zone 7 : Village area, but most prospective area for controlled development (30%).
Masonry covered drains has been considered for the storm water drainage of the project area. Considering the size of the drains, widths of the road, it has been proposed to cover the drain with precast perforated RCC slab. Cast iron gratings have been avoided considering theft, the cost aspect as well as the weathering effect of the sea. The size, number, orientation of the drains has been done absolutely as per Individual road conditions.
The different conditions of the drains are as follows.
·         Narrow roads will have one side drain with adequate RCC slab to take normal load.
·         RCC underground box drains to cater to the localized thumps of the road due to land form.
·         Totally RCC culvert type drains with flared ends at major road crossings.
·         Drop drains at steep fall in level of the road and invert level beyond 60 cm to maintain the self-cleansing velocity.
·         Ground levels, probable type of future development considered in designing the size and level of proposed drains.
·         No lifting / pumping station has been proposed.
·         The maximum ratio of 1:2 (width : depth) of the drain has been maintained all throughout the area for easy maintenance, construction and to avoid blocking of drains.
·         The major roads will have both side drains to facilitate better inlet of rainwater, as well as easy connection to individual plots.
The storm water drain have been designed with sufficient capacity to avoid frequent flooding of the drainage area and not designed for the peak flow of rare run of such as once in 50 years or more. There may be flooding when any natural calamity occurs or when the precipitation exceeds the design value, which has to be permitted. Though such flooding causes inconvenience, it may have to be accepted once in a while considering the cost economy.