Five villages have been adopted by National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, to help adivasi communities in training, capacity building and access to market links to earn a livelihood.
Adopted under the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, a flagship programme of Ministry of Human Resource Development, the villages — Vadachi Vadi, Shirwadi, Ekleshawadi, Shiroshi Katkariwadi and Valhivare — are covered under the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas)-PESA Act, 1996. NITIE also distributed grocery and medical kits in remote adivasi villages in Murbad Taluka of Thane district.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the village residents, who are dependent on the sale of forest produce and handicraft artifacts to tourists, were facing livelihood challenges.
Director Manoj Kumar Tiwari conceptualised a novel two-way social outreach activity to support village residents. On one hand, grocery kits would be distributed to them, while the institute would purchase some products made by them as well.
Since the beginning of a nationwide lockdown, the NITIE team has been coordinating with Pralhad Lokade, PESA Coordinator of Murbad, to explore ways and means to support the residents of these remote villages.
The intent has been not only to distribute goods but also to provide earning opportunities in difficult times. The NITIE team explored different products that the villagers could make and sell, and reviewed ground-level constraints in the supply chain of each product. Based on feasibility, home-made papad and bamboo baskets were selected.
At the village level, Lokade coordinated raw material procurement and preparation of the product. At the same time, from the institute’s side, former Lt Cdr Nisha Singh obtained necessary permission and coordinated grocery procurement and kitting operations. On May 5, the NITIE team, including medical staff, visited the villages and distributed 340 kits to households with the help of village-level officers and mobilisers. The team also purchased 40 kg papad and 150 bamboo baskets from the villagers.
Social distancing and sanitisation norms were followed throughout the activities. The medical team, Dr Smriti Patel and Mr Laxmikant Thopate, interacted with ASHA workers (Accredited Social Health Activist) and explained in simple terms to the villagers about basic healthcare protocols to effectively fight Covid-19. Medical kits, including masks, gloves and sanitisers, were distributed to the ASHA workers.
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