Rudraprayag Relief Program Phase 2 - Report for Day 7 & 8

Relief Material Distribution

Day 7, 30th July, we started the day with a visit from the pradhan to verify that there were about 52 SC families and another 90 families in the BPL category of the total 340 families in the gram sabha which contains 6 villages. We were also paid a visit by a Mr. Rajender Powar who works for Appropriate Technologies India (the firm whose rep Mr Bhagat Negi at Guptakashi had directed me towards Makku Math). Mr Powar shared a list of 22 families from the surrounding Gram Sabhas who had lost family members in the tragedy. Of the list, about 6 were from the Bhiri gram sabha which is far from our camp.

Material distribution process:

We decided that we will cover all the affected families (persons missing) from the gram sabhas of Makku Math, Jagpura, Bhigi, Uthind, and Parkandi and all SC and BPL families from Makku Math. This totaled to about 163 families. This would leave 6 affected families from Bhiri and 195 families from Makku Math gram sabha who would be supplied from the second relief truck. We also decided that each person who comes to collect the material would be required to produce a ration card with the name as in the list which we stuck outside the shop. The timing for distribution was set as 0930-1230 & 1400-1630. Srikkanth managed the distribution with either Sanjay or Mahesh assisting. The name of every person collecting the ration was noted down along with the ration card number. In case of ration card being unavailable, voter id or such photo id was used as a substitute. The aim was to deter false or multiple claims. The name was then checked off on the list.

In the first 2 days of distribution, the following families have been covered-
11 affected families
135 families from Makku Math including SC and BPL
The remaining families from the target list for first lot, will be covered tomorrow, 1st August as the families are being individually contacted.
Local youth have helped deliver sacks to families with no able bodies to carry the sacks.
One particular case was of Mrs Baisakhi Devi. A very old lady in Makku who had lost her only son earlier and lives alone in a dilapidated hut. We realized that her house was in a state of disrepair and have offered to provide the tarpaulin used to cover the supplies, at the end of our visit. We will work with the pradhan to ensure that the tarpaulin is used to fix her roof. Picture attached.
Reconnaissance for long term developmental activities:
At the start of day 7, a discussion with Mr. Rajender from ATI revealed that they have been working for over 15 years in the region to improve the economic conditions. They are focussing on siriculture, bee keeping, dairy, and microfinance. The problems they have identified include:
1. Lack of cattle fodder. Most grasslands have been converted to agricultural lands. There does not seem to be any substitute being used.
2. The local cattle have a low yield of 2 ltrs a day which is not sustainable. Other breeds which yielded 10-15 ltrs a day were not popular yet. Someone had started keeping such breeds near Guptakashi which yielded 11ltrs but in the earthquake last September, he lost his facility and moved out.
3. Most families own fields, split and spread through the village. Therefore, its difficult to get them to move towards commercially viable volume of more income generating crops. ATI has succeeded in converting a village near Baswada to consolidation of fields for potato farming which helps attract buyers to come and procure directly. But there needs to a proof of concept visible to the villages before they convert to commercial farming. Today, they sow paddy for 6 months followed by wheat for the next 6. The quantity reaped is barely enough for a month's consumption. This means that its not self sustained. The families usually depend on the members working outside, for income and agriculture seems to be merely being followed out of tradition and custom.
4. Even efforts to convert farmers towards more commercially rewarding crops has failed as its difficult to market the products given the small field sizes.
Rest of days 7 & 8 were spent trekking along with the gram pradhan across the gram sabha of Makku Math to visit 2 primary schools and 1 intermediate college. A 3rd primary school will be visited tomorrow.
The first school visited was the primary school in Makku. This school has 35 students and 1 teacher- Mr. Jay Prakash Rana.
Though the government prescribes 1 teacher per 30 students, it gets impractical to handle them across classes 1 to 5. Currently, the students of classes 1&2 sit together in 1 room. Students of class 3 and the weaker students of class 4 sit together in the verandah and smarter students of class 4 and students of class 5 sit in the other room. The teacher sits in the verandah so that he can look over all 3 groups easily. Government provides free textbooks for all students. Additionally, all girl students and BPL students are provided rs400 p.a. for 2 sets of uniform. Unfortunately this does not cover winter protection. Also the students need to spend on notebooks and writing tools.
As per the teacher, the primary needs were:
1. Volunteer to support the teacher. Currently the teacher has to cover all subjects for all 5 classes and also take care of account keeping and midday meals. As per him, a volunteer could be easy procured from within the village at 12 to 15 K p.a. for the purpose and requested if we could fund it.
2. Given the quality of textbooks and span of teacher, he felt the need to have learning tools that could be used to educate the students.
There is a private primary school close to the government school. This school has about 85 students and 3 teachers. Only BPL families send their kids to the primary school in Makku and others send the kids to the private school- shishu mandir.
The next visit was to the Intermediate College at Makku which has classes from 6th till 12th. I spoke with the principal- Mr. Prem Singh Negi and many of the teachers. On request they also showed me the labs in the school. The school has 264 students wih 18 teachers. The positions of PGT for Maths, Chemistry and Hindi, and TGT for Science are currently vacant. The visible needs of the college were:
1. The teachers believe that they have the required equipment for the sci labs but have need for the lab tables. The bio, chem and phy labs are all housed in one large room with the equipment stored in steel cupboards. The room needs to be refurbished to create partitions and set tables for practicals. The same room is also used for class 11 sci section.There are 3 students in class 12 and 8 students in class11 science section. Picture of lab attached.
2. They requested that if we could provide for prescribed textbooks for classes 9 to 12, about 10 of each subject, in the library, they would be able to cater to the need of the students for a few years. Classes 6 to 8 are provided free textboks.
3. The library could also use magazines and books of competitive exams and general topics.
4. They felt that the biggest expense for students is notebooks and it would help if those could be provided
5. The computer lab contains 3 desktops. However, intermittent power supply and bad internet connection ( using dongle) is an issue. They asked if a DG set could be provided. They also asked if a few computers could be donated as well and students are showing great interest.
I tried to assure them that we would help with whichever needs that we could but it can be only decided by an official from the NGO as I was only an volunteer and not sure of the extent to which Ritinjali could assist.

On day 8 , I trekked down the valley and up the other mountain to reach the 2nd primary school in the gram sabha. This is in the village Dilana Gwad and has 16 children and 1 teacher. 14 of the students are from BPL families. The teacher- Mr Ranvir Singh Negi also requested help with writing and drawing materials, notebooks and learning tools. He also mentioned the need for winter clothing and rugs for the winter for the classrooms. In this school there are 2 rooms of which 1 is also used for aanganwadi. This has helped the teacher as the aanganwadi volunteer helps look after the class 1 and 2 students and the rest get housed in the other room.
The 3rd school in the gram sabha is at Kail with 9 kids and a teacher. The teacher is currently away for TET and so the students are being looked after by a volunteer. I plan to visit it tomorrow though it is not expected to reveal anything drastically different from the other schools.
Given the mountainous route it is impossible to merge the schools and therefore each primary school has a single teacher with a lady for preparing the midday meal for a handful of students.