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SEPTEMBER PROGRESS REPORT

D A TE : O C TO B E R 1 7 , 2 0 0 9

At the outset heres wishing you a very happy Diwali. Also, apologies for this delayed report which was held up since we were travelling till the 12th of October.

UTTARAKHAND
We have undertaken to work in three blocks: Tarikhet, Dwarahat and Hawalbagh in Almora district. The survey work was completed in Tarikhet block in the third week of Sept. The six Him Sainiks working in the other two blocks have covered around 30% of the villages and expect to complete the survey work by the end of October. A meeting of the Him Sainiks was held in Ranikhet on September 30th to review progress and strategise work for October. Besides Akshay, Jogendra and myself we had a surprise visitor the dean of IIM Bangalore, Prof. Trilochan Sastry who has been active in assessing NREGA work in A.P. and Karnataka. The salient points that emerged were: 1) An analysis of the survey data of 130 gram panchayats in 263 villages of Tarikhet block indicates that around 70% (that is 10,000 of the 14,000 families surveyed) are interested in working under NREGA. Nearly 80% have got job cards but only 65% or so have opened a bank account. 2) The work of committee formation in the villages was initiated but because of harvesting and Dussehra this will produce results only in Oct. Three immediate tasks identified were: a) application for balance job cards, b) opening of bank accounts, and c) preparation of villagewise work plans using the number of people willing to work as the base. 3) This data is to be communicated to the BDO (Block Development Officer), Tarikhet 4) In the other 2 blocks it was decided that the Him Sainiks would dedicate 50% of their time to committee formation and the rest to completing the survey. 5) It was also decided that November 15th would mark the beginning of the process of interested families demanding jobs in their respective panchayats. 6) The formation of a peoples organisation - Chetna Sangathan - was approved and all actions hitherto are to be undertaken under its aegis. Guidance and strategic inputs will be provided by Akshay, Jogendra and the Lok Chetna Manch team. 7) A schedule for conducting village shivirs and interaction with PRI members in October was also to be prepared

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As part of team building and capacity enhancement the Him Sainiks had been asked to present their views on the state of the environment in their work areas. For a first time effort, the presentations were of a good standard and there was a lively Q&A session. This practice of a group discussion/debate will be continued in all future meetings.

ORISSA
Although we had targeted September 15th for the completion of surveys we were only able to complete the bulk of this work by the last week of September. There have also been delays in compilation of all the data but taking into account the scale of the exercise some delays are not unexpected. As of the end of Sept. we have covered around 150,000 families (approximately 750,000 people), who have been explained the provisions of NREGA in detail, besides having collected baseline data. By the end of October we expect our coverage to be as under: No. of Districts 7 Blocks 18 Gram Panchayats 181 Families interested in work 150,000

We will be visiting Orissa in the first and last week of Oct to refine and finalise our strategies taking into account the findings of the survey and prevailing ground realities.

OTHER ACTIVITIES
CONTACTING GOVERNMENT
Establishing contact with government officials at the state level as well as the centre, is an integral part of our process. We met Ms. Amita Sharma, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, who is in charge of NREGA. Besides acquainting her with our work we presented her a simplified payment option for consideration. (This is given at the end of the report).

FUND RAISING
We continued to receive commitments from concerned individuals and have so far secured around 50% of the funding required to see us through till June 2010. We are in a dialogue with United Way and have asked 3 of our partners to submit proposals to the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust under their small grants category. However we look forward to your continuing support, as also spreading the word and assisting us in garnering additional resources for this venture. Donation details are outlined at the end of the report. With best wishes, M.M. (Koko) Singh
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SUGGESTED PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR NREGA


The problem regarding delay in wage payments for a plethora of reasons is reasonably well known. This issue threatens to derail the scheme well before it has truly got going at the national level. Vested interests have connived with inefficient and in some case corrupt local officials. There is an urgent need to address this issue immediately and we propose that the following formula be put into place immediately. The worker needs money and a two week wait simply does not work. For anyone who has completed 6 days work, 3-4 days wages must be paid immediately. This may be done by disbursing cash or by depositing cash in the beneficiaries bank account, and not by cheque payment. For families who continue working the second week the same system should be followed. This will ensure that Rs. 600-800/- reaches the family, so that food security is ensured for up to a month. The fact that cash has been received will enable the workers to have faith in the system which will have to ensure that the 15 day deadline is strictly adhered to. For the above process, certification by the gram sevak/gram rozgar sevak, that job card holders have completed X no of days work should be the norm. For payments beyond the initial 14 days we should use a W+3 system where wage payments are cleared before formal clearance by the JE. The job card should be the basis for this and 75% of wages should be processed with the balance going through the system. The W+3 implies that payments would be processed within 3 days of the week ending and credited to the workers account within 7 days (after holding back 25% which should come in a week later). The underlying principle is faith in the people regarding the work done with the 25% serving as insurance for any shortfall in the work done.

APPEAL FOR DONATIONS


You are requested to support one or more such workers each of whom will cost only Rs.4,000/- per month. We will provide regular updates that fully account for your donations and detail the work that has been executed through various means such as the website, emails, social networks etc. Cheques can be made out to Atmashakti Trust Please pass this on to friends who may be interested in supporting us. Donations enjoy exemption under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act

CONTACT DETAILS
Koko Singh The Atmashakti Trust 101A Friends Colony New Delhi 110065 Ph: +91-11-41627576 Email: atmashaktitrust@gmail.com Web: www.atmashaktitrust.com
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