SajanSpeaks

Thoughts that originate deep within

Archive for the month “August, 2018”

Was Kerala Floods due to People and Policies? No!

My grandfather nearing 90 was evacuated this morning in Thrissur District. We stay close to Conolly Canal (named after HV Conolly, Malabar District Collector who built this in 1848). The canal which seems like a river flows about 100 metres from my house. After my grandpa reached my sister’s house, I spoke to him. What he told me stood in stark contrast to a message that has been circulating recently on social media.

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The WhatsApp message floating in the social media says that Kerala ignored Gadgil Committee report regarding deforestation and building in hilly areas and that had its recommendations been followed the flooding would not have happened. This message is incorrect and only partially true.

Had Gadgil committee’s recommendations regarding flouting building norms in hilly tracts and sensitive areas been followed, yes some lives would have definitely been saved in those areas, where landslides occurred. But the rest of Kerala being totally flooded has NO relation to Gadgil Committee. Let me explain.

Our house is located in a village that has not seen much construction in the past 40 years because large tracts of land are held by one family who have allowed the land to remain untouched because they don’t require any income from the land. So there has been no encroachment in this area at all. During the conversation with my grandfather he revealed that he faced a similar situation in 1960 too. That time the flood waters had reached the house. He says it has now repeated after 58 years. Remember in 1960 there were no encroachments and no Gadgil Committee. Such a flood of this severity had come earlier too in 1924, when Mr. Gadgil was not born at all.

Then why did this flooding happen at such severity. The reason is heavy excessive rainfall that is far far greater than normal almost 200%, especially in the catchment areas of dams, forcing the dams to open up. That is the reason Kerala is flooded. Kerala has a relatively decent drainage system. Every year we do have some flooding in low lying areas and the problem compounds during high tides when the water flows inland.

Yes in few areas some people have encroached and built on drainage systems and they are paying a price for it. There is a huge mall in Ernakulam which has encroached on a drainage canal. They have been adequately punished by the rains now, with their cellar parking flooded completely. And so the excessive rains is the reason and not a displeased Lord Ayyapan, Bishop Franco or some Maulvi.Ac-road-mankobu.jpg.image.845.440

The rescue efforts from the Govt notwithstanding, it is the locals who have been organizing rescues on a massive scale with local resources. I have eye witness accounts how the local population has been rising to the occasion. Temporary relief camps in schools have been set up, and locals are ensuring that everyone is looked after. There are nearly 350,000 people already in shelters in Colleges, Schools, Temples, Mosques and Churches. But that is still inadequate compared to the catastrophe. They require clothing, food, medicines. The Govt require logistical support, boats, machinery, doctors, supplies and volunteers.

The devastation has been huge. The trauma even more. This is the time to stand together with our brothers and sisters in Kerala. Rather than discussing Gadgil report, now is the time to DO YOUR BIT by contributing to NGO’s or the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) https://donation.cmdrf.kerala.gov.in and in case it doesn’t work for you then you may do it through https://www.oxfamindia.org/kerala-floods-2018 or https://goonj.org/contribute/ or https://paytm.com/helpinghand/kerala-cm-s-distress-relief-fund

 

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Let us put our effort to rehabilitate the people who have lost everything. Let our little help make a mighty ocean of love.

Rise up India – This is the time!

Olive Green Cookies: You too can Help by Eating one

When we talk of Jammu & Kashmir all that comes to our mind is the strife that is going on there, the agitations, stone pelting, terrorists being shot dead, army men losing lives…….. a population that feels disgruntled, and politicians making their career over this turmoil. But every now and then, there comes a story of goodness, struggle and success that emanates from that soil. One such was the story of Sehmat portrayed beautifully in the recent movie Raazi played by Alia Bhatt or the grit showed by Sepoy Aurangzeb before his death in the hands of terrorists.

There is another one that caught my attention recently. It is from the Jammu region of 6Samba. What was one thing common among seven women – 55 year old Biaso Devi & Chanchalo Kumari, 60 year Prakasho Devi, 56 year Sheeshna Kumari, 58 year Parkasho Devi & Gharo Devi and 26 year old Simmi Devi. They all were widows whose husbands had served in the Indian Army. After the death of their husbands, each one of them had a tale to narrate, one of suffering, loneliness and lack of finances. Each one struggled to make ends meet and look after their kids and family.

The Army in the local garrison was already well known for its close interaction with the local population. They had made a mark consistently guided by the Rising Star Corps HQ, Gurj Division and the Mission First Brigade who were well known for their Samba Super 40 academic excellence mission where in the local boys and girls had qualified for central competitive exams. That story is for another day.

The area is well known for walnuts and apples. Who doesn’t relish these goodies. While interacting with the locals one day and after listening to the sad stories of the widows, Brigadier Anil Raman hit upon the idea. Why not do something with the local resources and ensure the produce be marketed well so that there is an employment generation opportunity.

Aseem foundation, an NGO from Pune, have great experience of more than 215 years. They know and understand local problems in states like Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern states. Aseem Foundation worked with the Army to establish the Olive Green Bakery at Samba under the aegis of Army Wives Welfare Organisation. The initiative involved a manufacturing point at Samba Military Station for special Apple Walnut Chocolates, Caramel Walnut Chocolates and Walnut Biscuits. All help was provided by the Army under Operation Sadbhavana. With the knowledge imparted by the Aseem Foundation members, the local produce of Apples and Walnuts were made into Apple Walnut Cookies under the brand name Olive Green Cookies.

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These were then marketed all over India. You too can order your cookies. From today, let these cookies give you company along with your cuppa tea. It just costs you Rs 55/- for a box of tasty fresh 10 cookies. And it is delivered to your house through courier.

Four widowed women who were taken in this project work at the Olive 4Green Bakery. Today Simmi Devi proudly pays school fees of her daughter and takes care of her needs. Prakasho Devi is able to pay school fees of her two grand-children and also cater to their daily requirements. Chanchalo Kumari is able to help her son in day to day running of the house.   A week back Biaso Devi filled up admission form worth Rs 2000/- for her daughter Arti Devi from her first salary. These women are now beaming at this God sent opportunity and thank the Army for this new lease of life. A life of purpose, dignity and peace. Three more joined in later hearing about the new lease of respectable life this project has given them.

Great Work Aseem Foundation, Rising Star Corps, Gurj Division and Mission First Brigade and Brigadier Anil Raman, the man behind the idea. Kudos!

This Independence Day, You too can do your bit. Buy your cookies from them. Help these brave widows of Samba to sustain their lives with dignity. Get your first order going. TO ORDER Click here ->  http://www.aseemfoundation.org/olivegreen.htmland follow the process by filling your requirement.

Every bite you take goes into making a future for these soldier’s widows. Its time for my Cuppa tea with Olive Green Cookies.

 

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