Eco Village Programme
The most tangible manifestation of the AB model in blending environmental conservation with rural development is demonstrated in the Eco-Village project launched in Mannanam Village of Kottayam District. This programme encourages an eco-friendly way of life with people’s participation. The Mannanam experiment symbolizes the willingness of rural people to take up a lifestyle in harmony with nature. The village has today become a living demonstration of the assertion of people’s will in all aspects of community life. Small family units (abut 50 families) constitute one “Nattukoottam” or people’s group. Nattukoottams are encouraged to meet every week to discuss local issues and take decisions relating to all aspects of rural life. These decisions are implemented, monitored, evaluated regularly by people’s committees. The project is being implemented with the help of local institutions like the Mahatma Gandhi University, Nirmithi Kendra and the scientific and academic fraternity who provide expertise and technology. Dr. Ananda Bose was instrumental in helping the villagers identify institutional support, governmental assistance and financial support from different agencies. The main thrust of this programme is to facilitate self-reliance in the villages with emphasis on environmental conservation. The main activities undertaken include organic farming, soil and water conservation through traditional methods, floriculture, horticulture, vermiculture, generation of energy from non-conventional sources, homestead forestry etc., the focus of which has been on providing opportunities for employment through training programmes, construction/reconstruction of houses, awareness generation on environmental issues, empowerment of women through capacity building and provision of micro credit. Many villages in different parts of Kerala have come forward to adopt the Mannanam Eco-Village experiment in their area. Planning, implementation and management of its affairs by the village community have now emerged as a modern day manifestation of the concept of Grama Swaraj introduced by Mahatma Gandhi.
Campaign for clean and safe water
Two-thirds of the population of the Indian State Kerala has no assured drinking water throughout the year. Although Kerala has a large number of wetlands, the water quality of these bodies is too poor to be used for domestic purposes. The most important sources of drinking water in the state are the freshwater lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, wells and springs which are being polluted. To raise the awareness of the public on how important the protection of local resources of drinking water is, the ab Model came into action. An action plan was drawn in which main tasks were defined including the planting of a green belt around lakes, the treatment of waste water, weed control in the water bodies, etc. The project envisages the supply of clean drinking water to 5 million people. A ‘Project Water Save’ is being launched for the protection of water bodies.