Mr. Ashok Kadam and his fellow activists working in the Konkan region founded Parivartan in 1995. Prior to formation of Parivartan, Mr. Ashok Kadam was working as the coordinator for Konkan Sangharsh Samiti (KSS). KSS was essentially a federation of local grassroots organizations working on environmental and allied issues (i.e. industrialization along Dabhol creek; Lote Industrial Area, Enron & HOPLCL etc.) in the Konkan region.
Parivartan was founded in 1995 with an objective of developing pragmatic solutions to the problems of the local communities. These problems were mainly related to the deteriorating environmental situation caused due to pollution resulting from rapid industrialization and urbanization. Parivartan also initiated work on other issues related to the comprehensive social and economic development of the marginalized sections of the society.
Human rights are based on the dignity and worth of all human beings and seek to ensure freedom from fear and want. All our work is directed towards ensuring progressive realization of human rights to the entire community. Our approach emphasizes promotion, protection and restoration of human rights at the level of the individual and the collectives. Our strategy is based on seven core values : equity, social justice, gender justice, democracy, honesty, integrity and environmental sustainability.
Initial years of Parivartan were completely devoted to the interventions for 'Environmentally Sustainable Industrial Development'. A constructive approach was developed instead of sheer resistance to the industrialization, accepting the need of industries, concept of responsible industrialization was worked out. This concept was based on the fact that industrial development encompasses not only government and industrialists but the local communities too are important stakeholders. Owing to this Parivartan developed and facilitated the process of 'Participatory Planning - Monitoring' by community for giving effect to responsible industrialization.
Parallel to the activities with civil organizations, Parivartan also recognized the need & importance of building dialogue with the MIDC, industrialists and state government while working on issue of industrialization. Parivartan tried to bridge up the age-old communication gap between the local communities and government mechanism. Along with creating awareness in communities on the issues related to industrialization & its effects, Parivartan made the government mechanism to share the same platform for face to face dialogue with the affected communities. The strategic use of tool "Jansunavani" (Public hearing) added a big force to the intervention.
This tool was based on a detailed study of effect of industrial pollution on lives and livelihoods of local communities and on local natural resources. Parivartan partnered Society for Participatory Research in Asia, Delhi (PRIA) for completing this study.
A considerable degree of networking with individuals, organizations, institutions and experts concerned over the issues of environmental degradation and livelihoods had been achieved throughout the process.
Having a strong belief in organized civil strength, Parivartan's activities were taking shape with creating spaces for local leadership & respecting their right of decision making. Hence looking back at the very starting point 'Capacity Building of Civil Organizations' may be described as the exact opening activity by Parivartan. This was not just a part of strategy but also a vision.
Trainings on 'constitutional rights of villagers', 'laws regarding industrialization & pollution', 'government strategy on industrialization' etc. helped us to create the awareness amongst local communities. Knowing about the '73rd and 74th constitutional amendment' & 'livelihood opportunities in wake of industrialization' helped the communities to gain back their lost confidence. Trainings on 'environmental issues & social monitoring', 'technical & legal aspects of industrialization' and 'environment protection' were of utmost importance in capacity building of the activists from local organizations.
Women played a very pivotal role in this revolution. Referring to the overall picture in industrial belt, they were the most stressed component. The loss of land prominently affected the agro based livelihood of women & thus their earning; hence they had no control over whatever little earning that came into family. Balancing family expenses with meager income, drunkard husband were responsible for developing mental stress on the women. While polluted air & water only worsened & weakened their overall health & wellbeing.
But all these negations could not stop them from being equal partner in the movement of sustainable development. Women groups which were previously working as Savings Groups were transformed into 6 Self Help Groups. Parivartan had organized formal trainings on functioning of Self Help Groups. Simultaneously they started credit support to the needy women members. Gradually Parivartan arranged the training programme on Entrepreneurship Development for the women SHGs. These savings groups were then spread over 7 villages & covered 430 women members. Women who were leading Mahila Mandals were linked with vigilance committee of the village. Women had started to actively participate in Gram Panchayat's work. Considering the potential of women in bringing fair development to village, more efforts were taken on their participation in trainings on Panchayati Raj. Trainings and workshops to develop their skills as well as knowledge were organized. The result of this kind of regular grooming up was soon visible in form of their wise initiatives on village issues.
The growing spheres of women leadership were pointing to the need of organized platform. So were designed & formed the village level women development committees in nine villages of Lote region. These nine village level committees were united under the umbrella of Regional Women Development Committee, Lote.
Simultaneously, the conceptualization of the DS & working methodology emerged from Parivartan's work on the issue of land acquisition and industrial pollution in Lote Industrial Extension Area, Khed block of Ratnagiri. DS were formed to make the industrialization responsible to the local communities and ecosystems. Gradually the DS were mandated by the community to support and monitor the work the GP. DS worked as an effective tool for making the local governance & bureaucracy more transparent & accountable.
While working on the industrial & environmental issues, Grampanchayats of the respective villages played a pivotal role in the entire process. Grampanchayats were always observed to take a firm stand on the issues raised by people organizations. Even the industrial, political and bureaucratic forces were not able to deter them from their decisions. Elected representatives did every possible effort for state level presentation and political coordination of the local concerns.
This was quite indicative of the Grampanchayat's capacity to act as a centre for participatory development initiatives. 73rd Constitutional Amendment too had strengthened the Grampanchayats with the authorities to act as units of local governance. Considering these factors Parivartan was inclined to support the capacity building of Grampanchayats, ensuring the positive utilization of their potential for the welfare of needy and deprived.
Parivartan in collaboration with PRIA, started the activities for 'Strengthening Panchayat Raj' from 2001-02. The initial interventions covered Panchayats in Khed & Guhagar block. The activities were focused on the training & capacity building of all elected representatives (at GP) and the Gramsabha. "Gramsabha needs to address Voter's agenda to stimulate people's ownership towards PRI & Gramsabha". This thought enabled our Gramsabha campaigns to rejuvenate the most important tool for 'Participatory Governance - Gramsabha'.
Micro planning was intensively carried out in two of the intervened villages; Madhal & Pali. Both the villages belong to Guahagar block of Ratnagiri district. These villages demonstrated the micro planning to encompass the entire village development aspects. This activity was based on a very self-reliant & participatory approach towards the governance & development. The entire process, identifying the needs & prioritizing them, planning, resource mobilization & implementation involved the local participation & their skills too. As the people were moving forward from a stage to another, they realized their own potential. The dependence on government for one & every need was replaced by the new visionary approach.
This ultimately imparted a feeling of responsible ownership towards a village & it was seen as a big home of all the villagers. This unity perhaps was the biggest outcome of these activities. Pali & Madhal exhibited the model villages for micro planning activities. Their footsteps were followed by some other villages like Sapirli, Kurwal Jawali, Chorawane, Dhamanand & Sakhar.
Parivartan has worked as a resource institute as well as facilitating agency for 11 villages of Guhagar & Chiplun block under 'Jal Swaraj' - a campaign for water harnessing and harvesting, offering the key to the districts' development. On the background of Parivartan's Panchayat Raj initiatives in Guhagar, these villages had decided that no other organization, but, Parivartan could facilitate the process in their village. As per agreement with Zillah Parishad, Ratnagiri, this responsibility was for 18 months, but the project tasks took almost 3 years for the completion. This support was extended by Parivartan even after the agreement was over. 29 water supply schemes in 11 villages, made them acquire self-sufficiency regarding the water availability.
'33% Women Reservation' was one of the very neutrally accepted aspects of the 73rd constitutional amendment. The general underestimation of women's political understanding & efficiency is one of the reasons. Working in a much conflicting set of situations, tied in typical frames of Class - Caste - Gender - Power Politics was not at all easy for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs). The everyday growing fear of getting sandwiched between the established power holders both at household & at village level, must have let most of them experience a nightmare. Overriding bureaucracy, age-old patriarchy & meager resources were some of the pressure building blocks.
In such a situation THP-Parivartan's interventions proved to be confidence boosters to these women. The interventions acting as a constant & unending source of information have become a reliable weapon to fight with the malpractices taking place around. The trainings & handholding support thereafter imparted courage to question & control. Women have proved their caliber in dealing with the 'people & politics' letting the assumptions be assumptions only. They proved their understanding, efficiency & clean intentions (most anticipated quality from a politician) to the world. Yes, they really made the world to take note of the changes seen after women's political participation at the grassroots.
Parivartan - THP effectively applied the Women Leadership Development Workshop model to explore the leadership potentials of the EWRs. The events like 'Pani Parishad' (water conference) and 'Joint registration of houses in rural area' turned a successful effort to catch a mass support for most prioritized issue for women i.e. Water scarcity and house titles. The women meets held at every year proved to be a great boost to the activity as it offered the opportunity to the women leaders to express their thoughts, put forward their demands, state their expectations and share their experiences. It really formed a gesture to celebrate women leadership! A booklet on women leaders' case studies as well as a documentary film on women sarapanchs, "Mee Bai Sarapanch" [I am the Sarapanch] was also prepared. The documentary features the slow & steady change taking place in lives of rural EWR in corners of Konkan.
Pranita Jangam (former Sarpanch, Dahagaon, Mandangad) attended & addressed the 30th anniversary celebration of 'The Hunger Project' at New York City. She was one among the 4 chosen speakers from all over the world. She represented nearly 65,000 EWRs in India to whom THP extends facilitation support.
SHGs at the base & village level federation as key support 'Block level federations of Women Leaders' were formed. It has been observed that women's participation in the federation activities has resulted in greater awareness about their political roles. Federation has provided a forum for women to come together and discuss various problems. It has offered maximum space to women for decision making & implementation of plans.
Devolution of women leaders' learning & experience to the next cadre of emerging women leadership is largely being projected by the federation. The federations have created Information Resource Centers (IRC) for easy access to information & effective advocacy. IRC increased opportunities of having the right information at right time & right form, thereby ensuring the sustainable cadre building activity - thus a sustainable women leadership!
Industrialization and pollution in Khed & Chiplun has worst affected fishing community in the area. The famous Dabhol creek became the drainage ditch for polluted effluents from the industrial pollution, killing important and rare fish species and thus affecting the livelihood of the fishing community. The creek that had provided livelihoods to thousands of traditional fisher families over the centuries is now reduced to drainage ditch.
In order to enable this community to make substantial improvements in their livelihood situation, it was imperative to work on the following three aspects (a) promoting rights and access to resources, (b) introducing new livelihood opportunities and (c) enhancing capabilities of the marginalized groups to promote their rights and increase productivity of existing resources and activities.
Giving voice & direction to the silent struggles of communities for securing livelihoods with assured sustainability of natural resources formed the base for the initiative. The idea of livelihood enhancement did not limit itself to improving the financial status of communities, but encompassed community efforts to secure a culture that has been nurtured and prospered by the soils. The organized structures like DS & women SHGs led social actions along with building social perspective, besides, these structures helped the process take roots through frequent meetings with communities. Along with building community linkages, linkages with the concerned departments & development agencies were established.
Parivartan has worked for enhancing productivity of livelihood resources. The major objective was; to promote sustainable and productivity enhancing practices in the use and management of natural resources. The thrust was on accurate understanding of the current status of livelihoods and livelihood resources of the resource-poor families, identifying the appropriate livelihood activities to be facilitated and thereafter build technical, social and economic capacities to pursue these livelihood activities.
The important livelihood activities of the resource-poor sections in our region are cultivation of land (paddy, millets, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and other minor crops), animal husbandry (poultry, goat rearing, cattle rearing and dairy on a small scale), fishing (inland, creeks and deep sea), forest collection (timber and non-timber products), its processing and sale, and developing and maintaining fruit-tree orchards. Besides these some of them are also engage in wage labour both farm and non-farm activities.
However, several factors (some historical in nature, and some more recent) have severely disturbed this natural resources based livelihoods of the rural people, leading to severe livelihoods insecurity. These disturbances have resulted in high level of migration and low levels of human and social development. On this background, Parivartan has worked with an objective to organize the communities and develop their capacities around issues related to access and control over livelihood resources and facilitate redressing of individual cases of denial and/or violation of rights and/or access to natural resources.
In July 2005 all the blocks of Ratnagiri district faced problems of heavy rainfall, flood and landslide. Chiplun, Khed, Rajapur and Sangameshwar blocks experienced high frequency of flood and landslide. As an impact, people lost their livelihood resources, houses, agricultural & allied occupational resources. Parivartan had then initiated its activities on this altogether new theme.
Parivartan in partnership with Oxfam Community Aid Abroad has done relief & rehabilitation work at flood affected areas in Khed & Chiplun block of Ratnagiri district to improve livelihood situation of the community (in large numbers) from amongst the marginalized sections in region by increasing their access to livelihood resources and improving productivity of their livelihood resources. The activities comprised were providing fishing nets and reformation of agricultural land as the major victims were fisher folks and farmers.
A formal plan for managing disasters is extremely necessary and at the same time a process of bottom up planning is very crucial in case of disaster management. Disaster Risk Reduction plans should be prepared at micro level e.g. hamlet and villages. Grassroots need to be prepared for risk reduction, rehabilitation and mitigation. This would reduce community dependency on the government or voluntary sector aids. Community awareness on the alarming issues of disasters is inevitable. Self-help approach at grass-roots is essential to reduce the impact of natural calamities. Parivartan has taken initiative for preparing the disaster mgmt. plans for the community and has also conducted campaigns to build awareness about the disaster management at local level.
The community members were introduced to different phases in disaster management & assimilated the information on Community Based Disaster Management (CBDM) and Participatory Disaster Risk Appraisal (PDRA) tools. The exercise on plan preparation offered them insights for preparing CBDM plan for their village. Parivartan has also effectively put forward Model Demonstrations of structural mitigation in form of community shelter, footbridge and retaining wall.
The concept 'strengthening citizen leadership for good local governance' focused intervention at 4 levels, namely village, block, district & state. The village level interventions emphasized on efforts for getting positive changes in lives of grass roots. This has been brought about by securing their access to information and resources as well as imparting transparency & accountability in the last tier of PRI system. Block level interventions offered scope for mileage to awareness, organization and activation of people on village development issues. While district & state level interventions came with an opportunity to minimize information gap between people and bureaucrats; thereby enhancing the chances of inclusion of needs & aspirations of grassroots on the district plan agenda.
Mr. Ashok Kadam has a work experience of around 38 years in environmental activism as well as development work. He has been honored for his work with Ashoka fellowship from Ashoka Innovators for Public, Arlington, U.S.A. in 1999, Konkan Samaj Ratna Award in 2010 by Konkan Bhumi Pratishthan & Lokmanya Tilak Award in 2011 by Konkan Marathi Sahitya Parishad. British Broadcasting Center (B.B.C.) had interviewed some of the eminent activists in environment protection (Enron Power Project Area) movement; Mr. Ashok Kadam was one of them and had been interviewed in 2005 for his opinion on recommencement of Enron Project.
Parivartan had represented as a member in the Maharashtra State Bio-diversity Strategy & Action Plan Committee - 2001 (formed by Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development & Administration). Parivartan had also been given an opportunity to present a paper on 'Strengthening Panchayat Raj Institutions' at The World Social Forum in 2004 and had been invited by the NCERT for a roundtable at Hyderabad in November 2004.
Presently the organization is active in five blocks (Khed, Mandangad, Dapoli, Guhagar and Chiplun) of Ratnagiri district. In pursuit of goals set, the work of Parivartan mainly consists of the following intervention activities: