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Friends of Vrindavan Update - A letter from Michael Duffy

Jagat - Sat, 26 Jun 2004 20:31:44 +0530
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Friends of Vrindavan Update

by Michael Duffy

Dear Friends,

The summer temperature is touching 45 C. A hot energy-sapping wind is blowing dust across the shrinking flow of the River Yamuna. Amongst the community there is much suffering for access to a clean drinking water supply. As each summer comes by the scenario appears to worsen.

No single individual or entity can reverse this downward spiral but an idea and an intention can enable partnerships for change. Concurrently and as you will read below there are several enviro-social related issues, i.e. YAP II, Plastics ban, Ghat & River cleaning, Kund restoration, Parikrama beautification, which if converged and dealt with holistically can be effectively solved.

VAACH can be that community entity for this work.

So by way of keeping friends in India and abroad informed of developments during this summer quarter, please find below information pertaining to the ongoing developments for Vrindavan.

April 2, 2004. Jai Singh Ghera, Vrindavan.

"Public Participation & Awareness (PP&A) Strategy For YAP II (Yamuna Action Plan II)"

Organised by Development Alliance (Delhi) and under the auspices of NRCD (National Rivers Collectorate) and JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation) the workshop is part of the process of defining for implementation the "Institutional arrangements & Guidelines for Effective Collaboration Between Government, NGO’s & CBO’s (Community based organisations) for conducive community participation" for YAP II. Minutes or proceedings have not been released to FoV as yet. The chart below is not a finalised thing yet it does give a schematic indication of the direction that YAP II is heading:

May 17, 2004.

Municipal Chairman & Staff attended a 4 hour workshop on "Attitutidinal Transformation and Motivation" sponsored on behalf of FoV by Roshan Bhatnagar at Community Hall, Vrindavan.

This one day event was also useful in gauging the receptivity of municipal staff regarding the possibility of a future series of similar municipal staff capacity building events after October 2004.

It is no secret that for a variety of solvable reasons, the delivery of municipal services in Vrindavan is collapsing and that transformation and better governance is essential for the long term management of the water, land, forest and world renowned cultural heritage of Vrindavan. All of that, in the absence of a robust community organisation, is dependent upon the municipal management or lack of it, in Vrindavan.

Therefore a first participatory step to inculcate improved governance for municipal staff is in the right direction.

The well known public speaker and motivator, Anil Bhatnagar overviewed the employee development process. This would in a series of events cover topics such as:
  1. Planning and Organising skills
  2. Emotional Maturity and Positive Behaviour
  3. Interpersonal Relations
  4. Communication
  5. Team Building
  6. Confidence Building
  7. Self-Motivation
  8. Developing Integrity
  9. Personal Effectiveness (initiative, speed and quality in performance)
May 19th,

Friends of Vrindavan (Community Based Organisation – CBO) were called to a meeting with the senior District Authorities (DA) in Mathura. The agenda concerned two main issues and the message was essentially –

1) That having experimented with implementing the Government of India ban on certain grades of plastics in Mathura and although partially successful the lesson from DA is that it can only be done effectively via an active CBO on a daily basis, but in full liaison with the DA and their danda. That is, DA want a time bound work plan for implementing a plastics ban in Vrindavan, which DA can support only in a very limited financial way (printing leaflets, stickers – influencing people, attending meetings) but DA will support wholeheartedly with their ‘mandated and full prosecutory powers’ (sic). Essentially it is up to the CBO to announce, communicate and meet the community, plastic bag wholesalers/ traders/vendors/ regarding the plan: subsequently and in accordance with the advertised deadline - DA will back up the deadline with challans (fines) prosecutions or arrests of persistent offenders. This positive partnership offer may reflect just the personal wishes of the present top DA officers or it may also reflect a new mindset appearing at DA levels.

A time bound work plan is being drafted for the District Administration. However your comments, ideas and willingness to participate with resources or finances is essential if VAACH is take on this challenge.2) Vrindavan Parikrama Beautification.

The DA also was concerned at the state of the Parikrama of Vrindavan and especially the condition of the Yamuna banks and ghats. Again the partnership offer is to propose a community based time bound work plan to DA for the management of the Parikrama. Ideally this will be in cooperation with municipality but not dependent upon municipality. DA will help in persuading Ashrams, Trusts, Societies and Institutions to contribute to the Parikrama cleaning (especially organisations pledging to perform seva according to their deeds but whom are not doing so). Thus many organisations will take responsibility for 100/200/300 meters of Parikrama and an active CBO organisation will manage the Parikrama, supported by and in liaison with DA.

No doubt this is easier planned than implemented but the intention of DA is clear, collaboration. So again your responses, ideas and pledges of resources or financial partnership support is essential.

May 20, 2004.

Ms. Tokiko Kato, Special Envoy - UNEP (United Nations Environment programme) to India was accompanied to Mathura & Vrindavan by Officials from JBIC (Japan Bank for International Cooperation) and The General manager and officers of the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam (Water Authority).
  • 12:30 ~13:30: Lunch at Vrindavan
  • Coordinated by:
    Friends of Vrindavan
    Mr. Jagannath Poddar
    Mobile no. 09412279139

    Various issues were discussed, observed and recorded as the party took a round from Imli Tala, Chir Ghat, Keshi ghat and the back lanes to Radharaman Ghera:Yours sincerely,
    Michael Duffy