Gram Vikas is actively involved in influencing policies both at the State and the Central Government levels. Gram Vikas’ approach to influencing policy includes advocating and lobbying for a change and demonstrating the effectiveness by implementing the change in their areas of operation. The main areas of policy intervention by Gram Vikas include (1) Rural Housing (2) Water and Sanitation (3) Mining and Rehabilitation (4) Rural Electricity (5) Use of Government Wasteland for afforestation
Water and Sanitation
Mining and Rehabilitation
Use of Government Wasteland for afforestation
Gram Vikas has demonstrated that with the government’s existing housing credit-cum-subsidy programmes better quality shelter can be provided for rural housing. Larger spaces can be constructed instead of condemning people to a single room of 12’x12’ inhabited by three generations and used for all functions. With the same money that government allocates, Gram Vikas has built 2 rooms, a cooking space and a verandah, and has lobbied for this to become the norm.
Rural Housing policy interventions
Rural Housing – Indira Awas Yojana
Panchayati Raj: credit cum subsidy for Indira Awas Yojana
Water and Sanitation
Gram Vikas advocates that toilets are about dignity and continues to lobby for norms and guidelines for rural water supply and sanitation to achieve this.
Gram Vikas believes that in India where water is used for ablutions in the toilet, total sanitation cannot succeed without the provision of water. Without running water in the toilets, the drudgery of women increases as the burden of bringing water for the toilets also falls on them.
Gram Vikas aspires for 24hour water supply in all rural water and sanitation systems. When urban areas that import water have this advantage, why should villages with their own source not get 24hour supply?
Gram Vikas generally promotes the use of sanitary dug well (open wells) instead of deep bore or tube wells. Dug wells do not deplete the aquifer and also reduce the risk of contamination from heavy metals. Bore wells on the other hand are capital intensive and use heavy machinery. In contrast, dug wells use local material and labour and the money paid for them is retained in the economy. Protected sanitary dug wells, along with tube wells are now accepted by the Government of Odisha as the norm.
According to Gram Vikas, minimum standards for the toilets in rural areas should be the same as that of an average middle class urban household. The aim is to deliver good quality toilets and bathing rooms that the owner is proud of. With the view that women deserve privacy while taking a bath, Gram Vikas has also lobbied successfully in getting a bathing room included along with the toilet.
The norm promoted by Gram Vikas and now accepted by the Government of India includes a separate toilet and a bathing room and three taps, one in the toilet, bathroom and the third in the kitchen or close to the cooking space.
Water and Sanitation policy interventions
Release of Incentive and Motivation Fees for Construction of IHLs
Circular on Model Tripartite MoU on Swajaldhara
Involvement of NGOs for Drinking Water Supply and Total Sanitation Campaign
Tripartite Memorandum of Association - Swajaldhara
Establishment of community led water supply system by Gram Vikas - release of advance
NABARD: Bank Finance for Provision of Water Supply Facilities in Rural Areas - Model Scheme
Mining and Rehabilitation
Gram Vikas accepts that mining is a necessity but advocates responsible mining and social justice with the accompaniment of the affected community. People occupying the land where mining is to be carried out must be made into stakeholders. A third of the benefits from mining must also go back for the development of the area to be mined, 5% of which may be allocated to individuals.
Mining policy interventions
Orissa was among the first few states where electricity supply was privatized. However, the consumers continue to be at the mercy of the Service Providers. In collaboration with the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission and the local Service Providers, Gram Vikas has organized several workshops to educate the consumers of their rights. All stakeholders including the service provider, regulator and the consumers are brought on a common platform with Gram Vikas acting as a facilitator. These workshops are currently held at the district level but Gram Vikas aims to take them to the Block and Panchayat level as well,
Gram Vikas is also advocating for domestic rates for electrical connections for community based water supply schemes. Electricity for agriculture is subsidized. Urban dwellers also pay domestic rates for pumping water. On the other hand, rural communities that cooperatively build rural infrastructure for water supply and sanitation facilitated by NGOs have to pay institutional or commercial rates for pumping water.
Wasteland and Afforestation
In 1986 the government declared that all revenue wastelands would be taken up by government or private corporations for plantations. Gram Vikas lobbied that the task of afforestation and plantation should be given to the communities or should be carried out by the government themselves, with private corporations being brought in as a last resort. The communities should also be given usufruct rights to the plantations. This was accepted by the government and a huge social forestry programme was launched in the State of Odisha.
Wasteland and Afforestation policy interventions
Utilisation of Wasteland for Plantation – Circular from Government of Orissa
Permission for Plantation under Social Forestry Scheme
Sample Document of "Handing over the Plantations to Village Communities"