Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My Experiences : Dr. Veena Singh

The pen stops when I look back and think about Nainital as a pleasant, scrumptious and subtile town, set amongst cool Pine- clad hills with plenty of crumbling colonial charm. It was all about doing a 21days’ course for moving into another salary grade. The skilfully updated website of HRDC Nainital drew my attention and I chose it out of all the 66 HRDCs.  A natural curiosity kept troubling me about my being in the selection list, about the place etc. Then the time arrived and after 35 hours’ long journey, finally I reached ‘The Hermitage’, my abode for the coming 21 days. I got mesmerised by the beautiful, well maintained campus. Soon I was allotted a clean, cosy room. As I reached one day before, none of my fellow participants were to be seed around.  By the evening they started pouring in. Soon I was introduced to all 31 of them and I was happy to feel their positive aura around me. From day one of the class to the last day, I could feel the ease and comfort, the vibrancy and vivacity, they drove me into. Nothing could create hurdles, be it language, subject, different areas of interest and we were like a big family, enjoying studies and reliving our college lives once again in the lap of nature.
Soon we were assigned tasks of project proposals, group discussion, micro-teaching and individual assignments. These tasks helped us to update ourselves with better teaching skills. The classes were innovative and informative. Our Directors left no stone unturned to benefit us academically. Variety of lectures were arranged on the theme ‘Science and society’ to enhance our existing knowledge.  The course design and the course content was a complete success. Being a participant of Summer School 2015, we got an opportunity to meet personalities like Dr. Ajay Singh Rawat, Dr. Anand Sharma and many more such big signatures of their respective fields. My fellow participants were quite generous people to live with. We enjoyed each other’s company very much and yes, how can I forget those ‘Selfie Moments’.
 Evening were quite lively. We explored the beautiful Nainital, in our own way. A lot of sight-seeing, trekking, photography, enjoyment and learning to unlearn moments with nature were enjoyed together. It was so deeply impressive that I feel I carry the beautiful mountains, the Naini Lake and the generous people of the mountains forever in my heart.
It would be quite unthoughtful on my part if I don’t thank enough our director Dr. B.L. Sah, a multitalented, down to earth and a lively personality, Dr. Reetesh Sah, a silent worker with a manifacted personality who always wore a shine in the eyes and a smile on the lips to keep us motivated and Dr. Divya Joshi. A heartfelt thank you goes to the office staff for all their cooperation and the kitchen staff for the lovely homelike food and also to each and every person who is associated with HRDC Nainital.

Ah heaven!! I long to meet you again!!

Dr. Veena Singh
Asstt .Prof. (English)
Govt. P.G. College, Mandsaur (M.P.)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

How to write a Research Proposal

There are a number of agencies which encourage research and give funds to do it. In India, examples of such agencies are: the University Grants Commission, the Indian Council for Social Science Research, Government of India’s Department of Science & Technology, etc. Besides, each ministry of the central government has funds to encourage research. In few cases, the state governments also do funding for research. While applying for such funding the applicant has to submit a well thought out proposal. Almost all agencies have guidelines for submitting such proposals and in many cases they also list their priority areas on which they would prefer funding currently. Find out all these before drafting any proposal. The proposal should be crisp, clear and each word used carefully because before the approval is given by the funding agency, it is examined by its experts and the research committee.
While each funding agency has its own guidelines for submitting the research proposal, the following are some of the key points which most of the research proposals contain.  


On the title page, the applicant has to give his or her personal information, like name, academic title (if applicable), position at his her own university/college, e.g. Asstt. Professor (if applicable), date of birth, nationality and his or her work and private address with mobile/telephone and e-mail or any other information asked for. If a proposal also has one or more investigators, then the applicant will be designated as Principal Investigator and other investigators as Co-investigators. If so, similar information needs to be given about all Co-investigators. If a proposal has involvement of more than applicant’s organization, then it must be clarified, such as, single institutional or multi institutional. In later case, it must be clarified to which institution the funding agency shall release the sanction letter.
On the title page, the applicant should also give the title of his her proposed study. Remember that at this stage, the title can only be a working title. Nevertheless, all words in the title should be chosen with great care and their association with one another must be carefully managed. While the title should be brief, it should be accurate, descriptive and comprehensive, clearly indicating the subject of the investigation and the universe of applicant’s work. For example, “EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AT THE LOCAL LEVEL AFTER THE SEVENTY-THIRD & AND SEVENTY-FOURTH AMENDMENTS IN THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION: A STUDY OF UTTAR PRADESH.”  Note that he or she will only be ready to devise a title when he or she  is clear about the focus of the study.

The applicant has to state the general area followed by special area and nature of study. For example: 
General Area- Political Science.
Specific Area- Indian Constitution
Study Nature- R & D, action-oriented, as the case may be.
The abstract is a brief summary of the entire proposal, typically ranging from 150 to 250 words. Therefore, the abstract should outline the proposal’s major headings: the research question, theoretical framework, research design, sampling method, instrumentation and data and analysis procedures. A good abstract accurately reflects the content of the proposal, while at the same time being coherent, readable and concise. The applicant should not add any information in the abstract that is not contained in the detailed proposal. Because it highlights the entire proposal, it would be wise to wait and write the abstract in the last. This way, one merely has to reword information that was previously written.


When applying for a research grant or a study scholarship/fellowship, the funding agency expects the applicant to hand in a "detailed and precise description of study or research proposal as well as information on any previous study or research projects of particular relevance to the proposal." 
What does that mean precisely?               
The intention of the funding agency is to ensure that the applicant has done sufficient preliminary reading/research in the area of his choice, he or she has thought about the issues involved and is able to provide more than a broad description of the topic which he plans to investigate.
The proposal is of course not a fixed blueprint. One cannot predict one's findings beforehand or mechanically stick to an argument since the research will inevitably alter or even unseat one's initial expectations. However, the applicant has to convince the experts in the funding agency that he or she has identified the problem as well as a theoretical background and has a method to solve it within a realistic framework of time, staff (if required) and expenses. The applicant’s research should be able to add a new aspect to the problem in question or its fresh interpretation.
The applicant’s research proposal should have an agreeable layout, as laid by the funding agency. While brevity is appreciated, the proposal should be clear and should not create any confusion. It should introduce the problem, purpose and significance of a study as well as the applicant’s research questions, objectives and hypotheses. It must also give a brief explanation of the theory guiding the study, a review of relevant literature pertaining to the theory and the procedure or methodology for doing the work. 


The “Statement of the Problem” is an imperative part of the proposal, for in order for research to be conducted, one must notice a problem in the existing literature. For this section, the following questions should be answered: Why does this research study need to be conducted? What specific issues does this study raise that have not been observed in other literature pertaining to the topic? Answering these questions will allow experts in the funding agency to understand why this particular proposal is important and how the study will attempt to answer new, never-before asked questions or reinterpret what has been said or found till now.
Give a short summary of the research problem that the applicant has identified. Remember, the most important aspect of a research proposal is clarity on the research problem. The applicant should choose a topic which can be investigated through appropriate and valid methods and for which research material is available. The applicant’s most difficult problem might be narrowing the topic. This often occurs with topics that are still relatively unfamiliar. The applicant is advised to do a lot of general reading, and, if possible, consult his or her peers and other academics.     

It is appropriate to close the “Statement of the Problem” to include a sentence saying “The purpose of this study is…” or “Hence the study proposes” under this section. The applicant should clearly identify the goal of the study in one precise sentence. For example, the sentence could look like this: “The purpose of this study is to determine whether the 73rd & 74th constitutional amendments have really empowered women at the local level” or “Hence the study proposes whether the 73rd & 74th constitutional amendments have really empowered women at the local level.” Why is this an important area of study? Answer this question under this section. 


Here the applicant should give a short and precise overview of the present state of research that is broadly connected with his or her own research project. The proposal needs to show that the applicant is fully conversant with the ideas. The literature review provides the background for the research problem and illustrates to the reader (expert) that the researcher is knowledgeable about the scope of the theory. For this the applicant should research as many studies pertaining to the theory as possible and summarize them in a succinct manner. His or her research review should indicate an open problem which then will be the motive for his or her project. The applicant should clearly state how his or her own research will contribute to the existing research.
When writing the literature review, it is wise to separate the various studies one finds into different categories. Choose one evident theme or that became apparent when researching the theory. Briefly share the results of the various studies, including the most pertinent information, such as, the studies’ hypotheses, population, methodology, and results. Relate the study to an ongoing dialogue of the literature pertaining to the research topic. This means that each study one lists should relate to new, proposed study in some way. Report the studies sequentially, if possible, building upon the findings of prior studies. Remember to separate each category of studies with a new sub-heading. For example, International Status- one sub-heading- and National Status- second sub-heading. The applicant should do this as many times as needed.
The applicant should summarise, separately, the most important results of his or her own work on the topic done so far, if applicable. This the applicant should do by listing his or her own publications that might be seen in connection with his or his proposed research project.  


Before these terms are defined, it may be pertinent to note that some funding agencies ask for any one of these or for any two or all three of them. Objectives state what are the purposes of the proposed study, the research questions ask what relationships exist between the different variables in the study, while the hypotheses predict the relationship between variables. The applicant should list all the objectives, research questions and hypotheses for the study. He or she should format this section as given below.
For the purpose of this study, the following can be the objective:
  1. List the research objective here. For example, to find the extent the women have been empowered at the local level by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.
  2. As for purpose of this study, the following can be the research question:
  3. List the research question here. For example, how far the women have been empowered at the local level by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments?
  4. As part of this study, the investigation included one research hypothesis:
  5. List the study’s hypothesis here: For example, the women have been empowered at the local level by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. 


In making a proposal, it is essential that one defines the central ideas or concepts of the study or difficult terms. Therefore, the applicant should carefully define each idea/concept/term that will be used in the study, citing other research studies, if needed. He or she should list each idea/concept/term, italicize it, and use a hyphen to define the term as seen below:
  1. Empowerment- Empowerment, in the context of proposed study, would mean not only  the increased number of women elected at the local level but also how far they have become independent in their working at the local level and are still not or less dependent on the their families’ or other male members of the society.
  2. 73rd & 74th constitutional amendments- These amendments in the Indian Constitution reserved one-third of the total seats in the urban and rural local bodies in favour of women, which, in some states, has been increased to fifty percent. Prior to these amendments, only a few women used to be members of these bodies.           


This section in a proposal details the theory that is guiding the proposed study. From this theory, the applicant is able to inform the statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, the questions and hypotheses, the choice of instruments and methodology of the study. In this section, he or she should explain the major tenets of the theory as well as how the theory relates to the proposed study. Remember that the eventual findings of the study will be discussed in terms of how they relate to the theory. It should be a brief explanation of the theory, as the details of particular study have already been discussed in the “Research Literature Review.”


This section is the most important section in the entire proposal, as it explains each step the applicant will take in order to conduct his or her research. This section discusses what measures the applicant will take in order to test the study’s objectives/research questions/hypotheses. Here he or she should give detailed information about his or her intended research procedure during the given time. Anyone who reads the applicant’s proposal will want to know the sources and quality of evidence that the applicant will consult, the analytical technique he or she will employ and the timetable he or she will follow. Depending on the topic, suitable research strategies should be defined to ensure that enough and adequate empirical data will be gathered for a successful research project. The applicant should describe the intended methods of data gathering, the controls he or she will introduce, the statistical methods to be used, the type of literature or documentary analysis to be followed and so on.
In this section, it is vital to include the following sub-headings while expanding on them in as much detail as possible.
Research Design: Include the proposed research design of the study, whether it is a survey, experiment, observation, secondary data of analysis, etc. Then, explain how this design will derive results. Briefly discuss how the data will be administered and collected, including how the respondents will participate in the study. Also, briefly discuss which theoretical model will guide this study and what the model predicts will be the results of the study. 
Sampling: This section should include an expanded discussion of the sample. First, discuss the population under consideration. From where will respondents be selected? Second, give the sampling method to be used. Which specific sampling method will be used to select respondents? Lastly, list the elements that will be characteristic of the sample, such as sex, age, etc.
Instrumentation: In this paragraph, briefly outline the instruments (tools), such as questionnaires, interview schedules and/or interview guides, that will be used in the study, including any and all surveys, interviews, or observation grids. Discuss how the instruments will measure the study’s independent and dependent variables. Each instrument should be discussed  in more detail under separate sub-headings. The details could include what will and how will be covered in each instrument. For this paragraph in particular, include why the instrument is considered to be valid and/or reliable as well as how it will be useful for the proposed study. 
Data Collection and Analysis Procedures
Explain the general plan for how the data will be collected. Include any survey, interview, or observation procedures and identify any incentives for respondents, if any, participating in the study. Also, include what statistics or analytical tools will be used for analyzing the data, such as ANOVA, SPSS, or SAS statistics, if applicable.


The applicant should give a concise and clear outline of the academic (possibly also non-academic, e.g. social and political) aims that he or she wants to achieve through the project. The proposal needs to show why the intended research is important and to justify the effort of doing the research. Here the applicant should outline the significance (theoretical or practical) or relevance of the topic.
Such justification may either be of an empirical nature (the applicant hopes to add to, or extend an existing body of knowledge) or of a theoretical nature (the applicant hopes to elucidate contentious areas in a body of knowledge or to provide new conceptual insights into such knowledge). All research is part of a larger scholarly enterprise and applicants should be able to argue for the value and positioning of their work.


The applicant needs to give information about his or her estimated time table, indicating the sequence of research phases and the time that he or she will probably need for each phase. Take into account that at this stage, it can only be estimated, but make clear that he or she has an idea about the time span that will be needed for each step. The applicant should give a realistic time frame in which he or she plans to complete his or her project and its division into each stage of work. For example,

1. Preliminary work………………………………………………………....………  01 month
2. Framing of tools………….......………………………………………………    02 months
3. Pilot study…………………………………………………………………......…… 02 months
4. Field work for the collection of data……………………… …………..12 months
5. Data tabulation and Analysis………………………………………….………03 months
6. Reaching the findings & conclusions…………...……………………...03 months
7. Writing of report…………………………………………………………....…...05 months
8. Typing of report & its submission……………………….........……… 02 months
                            TOTAL  30 months
Preliminary work means after the letter for sanction of funding is received what steps are to be taken. For example, sending an acceptance letter to the funding agency, entering into a contract, opening a bank account, etc. Framing of tools involves making of questionnaire, interview schedule and/or interview guide, as may be required, for the proposed study. Pilot study is done to test the tool to see if it is clear to the respondents and is able to ensure the answers of the questions raised are keeping in mind the focus of the study. Pilot study should be done on respondents who are not going to be tested when the actual data collection is done. Data collection takes a lot of time because on its results will depend how accurately it is collected. Here the applicant or his research team visits the field to collect the primary data as laid down in the proposal. This may also include visit to libraries and other sources where secondary data is available. After data has been collected, it is carefully edited to remove any discrepancies. It is then tabulated. These days it is all done on the computer. Data tabulation orders the entire data into groups and sub-groups. It is then analysed to find out what it says about the objectives/research questions/hypotheses proposed in the study. On its basis, the next phase of the project proceeds, that is, to make final findings and the reasons for these findings and what conclusions it reaches. The report writing is presentation of the work done into various sections or chapters, such as, executive summary, introduction, research design and methodology, presentation of data, findings and conclusions, shortcomings encountered and suggestions for future research. The presentation of data will be descriptive but to make attractive one can and should also use tables, maps, graphs, diagrams, pie charts, etc. The report may end with required annexures and, if required, a bibliography. At times, the report may also include its limitations and suggestions for future research and how its conclusions shall be implemented. Once finalized, the report is typed, as neatly as possible with no typographical errors, it is bound in as many copies as may be required by the funding agency. One may keep some copies for himself or herself. These days almost all funding agencies review the report and suggest if any changes are required in it which the applicant has to do. 


Depending upon the guidelines set by the funding agency, the applicant can ask for research staff, such as, Advisor, Consultant, Facilitator, Research Investigators and others to carry out the study. Note that one cannot ask for office staff under this head. Each position, its qualifications, emoluments and the period for which the appointment shall be made has to be specified and justified.


The implementation of the project needs funds to be provided by the sanctioning agency. The broad heads are recurring and non-recurring. While non-recurring are those items on which funds are spent only once during the life time of a project, usually in the beginning, recurring expenditures are made at different phases of the project. An example of the budget proposed is given below:
Non-recurring, like instruments, computers, machines, books and journals, etc.
Recurring may include headings, like salaries of research staff, travel, secretarial assistance, computer assistance, postage, office shelf, etc. There is a contingency head also in the recurring expenditure to cover any unforeseen expenditures or escalation of costs. 
Finally, 10 percent of total of all heads of the proposed budget, in some cases only recurring heads, is given as overhead expenditure. The budget and the overhead total is the financial demand of the proposal. Remember it should be as per applicant’s requirement and work proposed and should not be exaggerated especially beyond the ceiling set by the funding agency in its guidelines. 


Here list those academic works which the applicant has mentioned in his or her research outline as well as a number of other important works on which he or she will refer during his or her research.


Give a list of other documents attached to applicant’s proposal.


Once the applicant has finished conceptual work on his or her proposal, he or she should go through a careful editing stage, in which he or she should make that the proposal does not contain any grammatical/orthographical/typing mistakes. If possible, the applicant may ask someone within the academic community to proof-read his or her proposal in order to make sure that the proposal conforms with international academic standards.

Professor C.P.Barthwal
M.A., Ph.D. Ex- Vice Chancellor, Kumaun University
Professor & Head of Political Science & Public Administration Departments
Ex-President, Indian Political Science Association & Indian Public Administration Association
Conferred Prof.V.S.Ram Senior Political Scientist Award. 
Currently, Advisor, H.N.B. Uttarakhand Medical University, Dehradun 
Editor, Indian Journal of Political Science & Bhartiya RajnitiVigyan Sodh Patrika.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Right to Information: My Experiences

Freedom of information, including the right to access information held by public bodies has long been recognized as an important feature of democracy, which leads to accountability and effective participation. The right to access information held by the state has been recognized by the Swedish  law for more than 200 years. It is a fundamental human right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information. In chapter (IV) of Gyan Karma Sansar Yog of Sri Bhagwat Geeta, it has been vividly stated that:

Truth about the Action must be known,
Truth about the Inaction must be known,
Truth about the Prohibited Action must be known,
Mysterious are the ways of Action.

The people being the sovereign have the right to all public information except that restricted by the society in public interest. In 1981 in the famous S.P.Gupta case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that disclosure of information with regard to the functioning of the government must be the rule and secrecy an exception justified only where the strictest requirement and public interest so demands. RTI is an elixir for democracy, necessary for the protection of civil liberties and an antidote to corruption
Corruption today has assumed menacing proportions and in November 1996, the then Prime Minister of India, Mr. Devi Gowda admitted while addressing a conference of Chief Secretaries, “Neither the political, nor the administrative system can single handedly deal with the virus of corruption. The chronic disease of corruption as such can only be wiped off by the enlightened participation of the populace in public affairs.”
The degeneration began earlier but now the stench is everywhere and democracy seems to be shackled by its fetters. Gandhiji had rightly remarked that there is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed. Earlier it was said that human beings are the precious gifts of God, but now it seems that they are the worst blunders of Nature. The time has come to introspect ourselves and to redeem mankind from the strong urge of amassing material goods. Corruption free governance is a basic human right and it is now time to recognize the paradigm within which the entire question of harnessing the unlimited resources that can be released in a corruption free society for the marginalized populace in India. We have to contain our ecological foot prints to conserve the natural resources for the future generation.
Law is a potent force to transform society but gradually its sheen has withered and authority waned owing to corruption. Secrecy is the main bulwark of inefficient administration and provides gist to the corruption mill. Transparency is the need of the hour and it is a hallmark of efficient administration. The Right to Information Act, (RTI) 2005 in this regard is a light of hope which can spread in all directions to dispel the darkness of secrecy. It can act as a catalyst to facilitate the onset of a new value system, a new environ of hope in the changing scenario. RTI will herald the soft rains of rejuvenation to establish a better society and will outlast the storms of corruption. 
Good governance and transparency are two important features of democracy and an open government is one which does not or should not hide anything from the citizens thus strengthening the link between the State and the citizens. Gandhiji  had said that “ The Real ‘ Swaraj’ will not come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity by all to resist authority when abused.” In this context RTI is one of the most important human rights as it imparts us to seek information from a very large, complicated and powerful machinery, where the operators hide their vile practices under the veil of secrecy. Unfortunately various colonial laws such as the Official Secrets Act, the Indian Evidence Act etc all help in suppressing information.
In India RTI was enacted in 2005 to make it a real democracy, where every citizen is informed of the activities the government is undertaking and is invited to take part in it. It should be provided to each and every citizen of the country to maintain transparency and openness in the government.
In Uttarakhand the preparatory activities for mainstreaming of the RTI Act had commenced on June 2005 when Dr. R.S.Tolia was the Chief Secretary. Concomitantly a head start was taken from the same date itself and has been followed up after he took over charge as the first Chief Information Commissioner of Uttarakhand in October 2005. Regarding the importance of the RTI Act, he has aptly commented that, “An introduction and orientation about the provisions of the RTI appears to me a necessity. Further, the RTI Orientation is required not only for the higher echelons of our administration equally, if not more, for the functionaries of the village, block, sub-division and district levels and even for the NGOs.” He enabled successfully in persuading the Government of Uttarakhand to consider the RTI as a powerful instrument to usher in administrative reforms and change its nodal department from the Information Department to the General Administration Department (GAD), which includes Administrative Reforms, there being no fill department for the latter. A Hand Book has also been prepared by him for Public Information Officers under the RTI Act. This Hand Book highlights several administrative reforms, which can be brought about through an effective implementation of the RTI Act.
Use of RTI
The RTI has been, and is being used by either individuals or organizations, which have not only led to retrieving of information but also facilitated in bringing about a positive change.
(1) In Naini Tal a residential colony and two offices were being constructed in a Public Park near the Hanuman Garhi temple complex. In the beginning the citizens of Naini Tal were told that two small rooms to be used as godowns were being constructed by the Forest Department. But on witnessing the construction site and the intensity of construction, doubts were raised and the people felt that the department is camouflaging the actual construction work. Subsequently under RTI information was sought and the facts that came out were chilling. Actually two offices, one of the Divisional Forest Officer and one of the Range Officer were on the anvil. Together with this one type v, one type iv and 32 type two residential complexes were to come up. It was against the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, Writ petition No 694 of 1993 decided on 9th March 1995. In the judgment of the writ it had been clearly directed that group housing is totally banned in Naini Tal. The Brijendra Sahai Committee, constituted by the then Chief Secretary of UP, Mr, Brijendra Sahai had also given similar directions and added that no official buildings should be constructed in Naini Tal owing to the eco-fragile nature of the town and because the carrying capacity of the town had been saturated.
The public park is located in the watersheds of Nihal and Ballia and the very existence of Naini Tal depends on these watersheds. The coming up of two offices and a residential colony would have accentuated further the ecological threats of the area.
In this regard several applications were sent to the Hon’ble Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand, Secretary Forest and Environment, Chief Conservator Kumaon, District Magistrate Naini Tal and the following memorandum under RTI was submitted to the Divisional Forest Officer, Naini Tal Forest Division.                                                               
The Divisional Forest Officer,
Naini Tal Forest Division,
Naini Tal.

Subject: Unsafe group housing in the Public Park in Hanuman Garhi temple complex.
 On behalf of the citizens of Naini Tal, I would request you to kindly refer to your letter, reference number, 315|7-1, dated, 25 th July, 2006 regarding my query under right to information. You have informed me that two official, and thirty seven residential buildings are being constructed by the Forest Department in the Hanuman Garh Park. You have also attached a report of the geologist, which states that the area is safe for construction. In this context I have to submit the following for you kind perusal and consideration:
1 The complex that the department is constructing tantamounts to group housing which is not permitted in Naini Tal according to the Writ Petition, No. 694 of 1993, Dr. Ajay Singh Rawat versus Union of India and others, decided on March 9,1995. In the decision it has been clearly directed that, group housing and commercial complexes are absolutely banned in Naini Tal.
2 The report of the geologist that you have attached is absolutely vague and cooked up. It seems that the
Geologist had to submit the report under duress. It is extremely redundant and the geo- technical aspect has not been touched by him. It is just a description of the slopes without mentioning the level of stability. The report does not throw light on the ground realities. Several thrusts pass through the construction site especially the Manora Thrust. The rocks are highly crushed, sheared, cleaved, criss- crossed and prone to land slides. According to Professor K. S.Valdiya and the Geological Survey of India, the area is very prone to land slides. Professor Valdiya’s assessment is that it is the most fragile area of Naini Tal. Your geologist has mentioned that no construction should be done on the eastern, western and northern part of the park; however the southern part according to him is safe. The ground reality is that the whole site is unsafe and the southern aspect has already caved in by twenty feet owing to which the line through which the total sewer of Naini Tal town passes could not be aligned since last one and a half year. Consequently the sewer can be seen cascading down the hill slope round the clock. The Geological Survev of India has also mentioned in its report to the Jal Nigam regarding the repair works of the sewer line that heavy construction should not be permitted because the  area comprises  98 % sand and gravel and 2 % shattered rock.
3 The Hon’le Supreme Court of India also gave cognizance to the fragility of Ballia Nullah and the ravine through which the outflow of the lake water passes during the rains. In its directions of the writ petition already mentioned, Ajay Singh Rawat versus Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has directed that, “The fragile nature of Ballia Ravine has to be taken care of. The cracks in the revetment of Balli Nala have to be repaired urgently.”
4 Construction on parks used by public is not permitted. In this regard the Hon,ble Supreme Court has taken a serious view and several cases can be cited in this context. I am attaching two of the decisions for your kind perusal.  In the Civil Appeal No. 7933 of 1995 decided on August 32, 1995, construction done by Delhi Development Authority in Park No. 6 of Pocket “A” of Sarita Vihar was demolished and it was also stated that” Officer of the statutory body responsible for the illegal action\ order must be punished in accordance with law”
            Similarly in Civil Appeals Nos. 9323 25 of 1994 decided on July 26, 1999 of construction done in Jhandewala Park in Lucknow, demolition orders were passed and also executed. 
            The Forest Department will not only endanger the lives of the people who (IF), will reside there but also of the people living in the downhill villages and townships. Finally the myopic decision will endanger the very existence of Naini Tal township because the construction site is located on the right flank of Ballia Nullah through which the outflow of the lake water passes and ultimately gets disgorged in the Ballia Ravine.
I hope you shall comprehend the gravity of the situation and under RTI could you kindly explain why this myopic decision has been taken? I hope you shall kindly recommend to the government the ecological sensitivity of the area to kindly cancel the orders for construction immediately.      
Thanking you,
Truly yours,
(Ajay Singh Rawat)
Dated. August, 1. 2006

Copies to:  1. District Magistrate Naini Tal.
                  2. Temple Committee, Hanuman Garhi, Naini Tal      
Annexure: 1. Writ Petition No. 694 of 1993
                  2. Civil Appeal No. 7933 of 1995
                  3. Civil Appeals No. 9323-25 of 1994
The forests of the park area are very rich in biodiversity and large scale construction will have a detrimental impact on the biodiversity of the area. It is a haven for migratory birds and the park has assumed a great importance for its panoramic sun set views. Here the sightseer drinks at the enchanting beauty of nature, the poet finds avenues of inspiration and the painter thrills at the tempting prospects of his canvas.             

In between a Public Interest Litigation was also filed against the construction in the Hon’ble High Court of Uttarakhand, Writ Petition No. 603 of 2006(M\B). The writ was however dismissed, but the sustained efforts of the people using RTI as a tool brought fruitful results. The  gravity of the situation was soon perceived by the Forest Department and their approach also facilitated in stopping the construction by the Uttarakhand Government.


(2) The policy makers and planners seem to be oblivious regarding the ecological hazards and the very existence of Naini Tal. In April 2006, the Lok Nirman Vibhag against the wishes of the people started widening the 2 km length of a bridle path from the Himalayan Zoo to the octroi post in the Pines area for vehicular traffic. This path had long been long abandoned after the construction of the motor road between Bhowali and Naini Tal. During the British period, people going from Naini Tal to Bhowali used to negotiate this bridle path or it was used by the field staff of the Forest Department. There are no buildings in the area as it is flanked on either side by a Reserved Forest and the Cantonment Forest. The portion demarcated by the department for the construction of the road is geologically very sensitive and in the catchment area of the Ballia Nullah and the Ballia Ravine. The average breadth of the bridle path is between 5 feet to seven feet. The construction of the motor road would have involved cutting of the narrow hillside for retaining walls, breast walls, side drains and drains etc. Subsequently trees would also have been felled and green felling above 1000m in the Himalayan region is banned. In the Lesser Himalayan region it is estimated that in a km length of road about 60 to 80 matured trees are felled and 40 to 80 thousand cubic metres of debris is generated in a km length of road and all this debris is dumped on the hill slopes, which kills the saplings and the ground vegetation and the natural springs are choked.. Further the road would not have of been of public utility and the surreptitious approach with which it was being orchestrated made it obvious that it was for the convenience of an individual as alleged by the people. The vehicular traffic if the road was constructed would have aggravated the landslides in the area as it is already prone to landslides and in some sites the gradient of the slope is more than 70 degrees.

A memorandum was submitted to the Superintendent Engineer, Lok Nirman Vibhag and under RTI the following information was sought from the Superintending Engineer, Lok Nirman Vibhag:
(i) Whether Environment Impact Assessment and Environment Impact Statement, which are mandatory, have been prepared for the project to be launched.
(ii)The motive behind the construction of the road and the reason for not taking clearance from the Ministry of Forest and Environment Government of India, New Delhi and the Cantonment Board before the commencement of the project was also sought.
(iii) How the road was being constructed in the catchment area of the Ballia Nullah and the Ballia Ravine, which are very fragile and will endanger the very existence of the township of Naini Tal?
The department did not bother to reply in consonance with the queries and after the stipulated period of one month the project was silently and abruptly dropped.


3 On 21st April , 2007, the District Magistrate of Naini Tal was informed that illegal mining was going on rampantly by private parties in the villages Bhoursa, Amiya and Raushil in the river bed of Gaula against the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. It was clearly mentioned that these private parties cannot mine in the area as per the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the Writ Petition, No. 233\ 302 of 30.2.2002 Ram Krishna Vivekanand Sewashram Trust versus the State of Uttaranchal. Upon hearing counsel the Hon’ble Court made the following order. “There will be stay of digging and removal of boulders or stones from the river beds of the bank by any party except by the State of Uttaranchal itself, irrespective of who claims the ownership.”
The district administration was informed that issuing of permits issued to private parties can tantamount to contempt of court yet the plea fell on deaf ears. In between under RTI the Forest Department gave the following information that on 3.7.2006, Secretary of the Monitoring Committee of the Hon’ble Supreme Court had informed the Secretary of Industries, Government of Uttarakhand,  vide G.O. No. 1225\ 10-11-98-87\98, dated 21. 04 1998 issued by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, which is applicable to Uttaranchal, ( in fact more relevant to the new State). The G.O. has issued the following guidelines in view of orders in Writ Petition ( C) No. 202\1995, T.N.Godavardan Thirmulpad vs Union Of India and others passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court:
(i)                 In view of forest as defined by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, no permit should be issued without prior permission by the Government of India.
(ii)              No mining permit would be issued within 100 metres circumference ( belt) of forest area.
(iii)            Before issuing mining permit No Objection Certificate be obtained from the Divisional Forest Officer.

On December, 9, 2005, the Executive Engineer of the Jamrani Dam Construction Wing had also reported to the District Magistrate, Naini Tal that owing to the illegal mining the existing buildings of the government and the Field Hostel have been damaged and other buildings can be can also be damaged if the illegal mining continues. He had also requested that illegal mining should be stopped immediately and had cited the earlier letter of the Executive Engineer of Jamrani Dam, dated, 22.11.2005, reference no.1853\ Jamrani-1 and of the Superintending Engineer, Irrigation Department, Haldwani Division, reference no. 2966 in this regard.
To put a ban on mining, the new District Magistrate was requested on 25. 5. 2007 and total information regarding illegal mining was furnished to him. Before this under RTI, details were collected from the Divisional Forest Officer, Naini Tal. It was found out that mining permits had been issued to private parties\ individuals by the Uttarakhand Government on the recommendations of the district administration. In the three villages, Bhoursa, Amiya and Raushil the amount extracted between July 2006 to May 2007 was 88,497.74 cu. m, 1,21,191.73 cu.m and 35,041.00 cu.m. respectively and it is alleged that the private parties were not mining from the areas allotted to them but from other sites.
The new District Magistrate banned mining in the area and the information was extended by the Sub Divisional Officer of Naini Tal Forest Division, letter No. 126\1-7, dated 16. 6. 2007
Similarly the new District Magistrate banned mining by private parties in the river bed of Nihal. In the past mining had been stopped in the river Nihal because it had eroded the river banks owing to lateral cutting and valley deepening. But it was again permitted in 2007. On 29th May 2007 the residents of the village Dhapla submitted a memorandum to the District Magistrate in this regard as mining was having a diabolic impact on the very existence of the village. The residents of the village Dhapla are marginalized peasants and the majority of them belong to the Scheduled Caste. Already a large chunk of agricultural land of the village had been washed away by the vagaries of inundation when the river was on spate several times in the past.
Subsequently a letter was submitted on 30th May, 2007 to the district administration under RTI in this regard. The decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court was also forwarded with the plea that the Irrigation Department and the Forest Department have initiated Treatment Projects to save the area from the precarious situation and the ecological disturbances. Currently the District Magistrate has put a ban on mining in the region.

Myopic Legislation
The Bhopal disaster and other major accidents involving hazardous chemicals and release of toxic gases in industries brought ‘Major Hazard Control’ into sharp focus. Fire, explosion and release of toxic gases can cause deaths and injuries to workers and the people living in the vicinity of industrial installations. It also has an adverse impact on the environment. Prevention and control of major hazards have subsequently become an issue of high importance throughout the world. But the Uttarakhand Government is oblivious of the fact, which is alarming.
According to the Ministry of Forest and Environment Notification, 1st August 1996, which deals with the rules on Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response for Chemical Accidents, the State Government shall have a State Crisis Group and constitute District and Local Crisis Groups within 30 from the date of commencement from these rules. The State Crisis Group shall be the apex body in the State to deal with the major chemical accidents and to provide expert guidance for handling major chemical accidents. It will review all district of f site emergency plans in the State with a view for examining its adequacy in accordance with the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules and forward a report to the Central Crisis Group once in every three months.
 The State Government shall also constitute District and Local Crisis Groups. The District Crisis Group shall be the apex body in the district to deal with major chemical accidents and provide expert guidance for handling chemical accidents. The District Crisis Group shall meet every 45 days and send a report to the State Crisis Group. The Local Crisis Group shall meet every month and forward a copy of the proceedings to the District Crisis Group.
This notification is very important for the new State of Uttarakhand that is focusing on industrial development as an important source of revenue.
Again the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, which are extremely important for the safety of the workers is not being adhered to in Uttarakhand. The Industrial Policy of the State has not taken due care in this regard. According to these rules, the concerned authority shall inspect the industrial activity at least once in a calendar year; and except where such authority is the Ministry of Environment and Forests, annual report on the compliance of the rules by the occupiers will be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests
through appropriate channel. In Uttarakhand the power to inspect the industrial units has been given to the Chief Inspector Boiler and Industries.
The safety of the workers in the industries and the local populace has taken a back seat in Uttarakhand. For the safety and evacuation of the workers inside the industries, an Onsite Emergency Plan has to be prepared. For the protection of the local population residing outside during mishaps, there has to be an Offsite Emergency Plan. In Uttarakhand the Industrial Policy is silent about these precautions. Once in every six months there has to be a rehearsal on site under the supervision of the Factory Inspector or the Chief Inspector, but this procedure is not being followed.
The disdainful attitude of the department led to the catastrophe on 1st May, 2006 in which 11 labourers died in the Shyam Paper and Board Mills Ltd in Kashipur. The callous approach of the administration and the mill owner can be gauged from the fact that on 21st April, 2006 the mill owner was permitted to store 150 metric tons of sodium chlorate by the administration against the optimum storing capacity of 50 metric tons. As the storing capacity of the factory was disproportionate to the storage area, sodium chlorate was stacked allegedly at unsafe places, in between gas cylinders too. This negligence of the authorities thus resulted in the diabolic catastrophe.  It is alleged that hitherto no compensation has been awarded to the families of the deceased.
In Uttarakhand there is no mechanism for maintaining a record of accidents in the factories. In other states if a worker does not report on duty for forty eight hours even after a minor injury, it is notified and mentioned in a prescribed format and reported to the Inspector of Factories duly signed by a competent authority of the factory.
Boilers in industries are very important for the safety of the workers inside the factories and for the local population residing outside. If they explode, they will have a diabolic impact both inside and offside. The importance of the Boilers Act has still not been understood and the Boilers Rules have not been framed in the State hitherto. If there is any mishap then there is no legal validity of the State for taking any action against the industry and providing compensation to the victims.
Again the Chief Inspector, or the Director General of Factory Advice and Labour Institute or the Director General of Health Services or any other officer as may be authorized in this behalf by the State Government may, at normal working hours of a factory, or at any other time as found by him to be necessary, after giving notice undertake safety and occupational health surveys including examination and testing of plant and machinery and collection of samples and other data relevant to the surveys. For the purpose of facilitating such surveys, every worker if so required, shall present himself to undergo such medical examinations as may be considered necessary by such person and shall furnish all information in his possession and relevant to the survey. However, as there is only position of the Chief Inspector, it is not humanly possible for him to undertake such surveys.

Industrial development is adversely affecting the physical environment of the region. The State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttaranchal Limited (SIDCUL) is allotting the most fertile agricultural land in Tarai to big industrial houses on a lease of 90 years at very cheap rates. The Tarai region in Kumaon has been a torch bearer to agriculturists in other parts of the country. It was famous as the agricultural bowl of Uttar Pradesh. But with the formation of the new State of Uttarakhand, agriculture seems to have become a back burner in this fertile belt. Instead of promoting agriculture, industrial development is being given a fillip on the most fertile lands. This land use change will not only have a detrimental impact on agricultural growth, but it will disturb the socio-equanimity of the region. Already fissiparous tendencies have started surfacing to a certain extent and there is a lot of resentment, both amongst the kulaks and the peasants. The local people are peeved by the fact that the industries, which came up in the recent past, the overwhelming majority of them are owned by outsiders. They are particularly miffed because many of them were aspirants, but for the reasons best known to the authorities, they were not favoured. Under RTI, the Industries Department informed that the land, which was leased to Tatas was at the rate of Rs125\ per sq mt, Bajaj, Rs. 700\ per sq. mt. Nestle Rs 560\ per sq. mt. and Dabur at the rate of Rs 560 per sq. mt. The land leased out to these industrialists is, Tata 394.97 ha, Bajaj 24.6 ha, Nestle 9.84 ha and Dabur 6.8 ha. These outside entrepreneurs allegedly have brought their own men to man different levels of production processes. Even as labourers, the locals are least favoured, because of their capability to counter the high handedness of the employers. Thus the local people feel like having been cheated.
Further, these new industries have started a new trend of employment. They have adopted a strategy of keeping the maximum work force under the contract system. The manpower working under the contract system has to put in the same results as are expected from the permanent working force coming under the company rules. The workers under the contract system do not get the same benefits as available to the permanent work force. Thus these big industrial houses are knowingly creating a perpetual gap between the two types of employees. The system in the long run will be beneficial to the company management. But it is an open mockery of the basic policy of Directive Principles enshrined in our constitution to ameliorate the socio- economic condition of the deprived sections of our society in a rational manner.
In the Lease Deed it has been clearly been mentioned that, “That the Lessee shall establish at its own cost an appropriate and efficient primary effluent treatment system\ plant and shall ensure that it is ready and functional as per the norms and specifications, laid down by the State Pollution Control Board or any other authority established by laws for the time being in force before production in connection with the unit proposed to be set up on the Demised Land. All effluents generated from the Lessee’s Primary Effluent Treatment Plant shall necessarily be discharged into the Waste Water Collection System.” However the residents living in close proximity to the industries allege that the procedures are not being followed.
Again stone crushers have been established on prime agricultural land and in townships. They have become a major source of air pollution and accidents. Although in the amended Mineral Policy of Uttarakhand, dated, October 12th, 2002, No. 3498\22 kha\2001, it has been clearly mentioned that:
1 Stone Crushers will be at least 500m from educational institutions, hospitals places of worship, bridges and canals.
2 For being pollution free, a No Objection certificate will have to be obtained from the State Pollution Control Board.
3 The Revenue Department will give a No Objection certificate with the intent that the proposed site of the Stone Crusher will be at least 500m away from the forest area, main roads, National  and State Highways and the average distance between two Stone Crushers will be 500m.
These rules are however openly being flouted. The productivity of the agricultural land in close proximity to Stone Crushers is declining rapidly and the marginalized farmers are forced to sell their land to the owners of Stone Crushers at throw away prices. The Stone Crushers located near forests are responsible for destroying the forests as alleged by the local people.
The dumpers, which ferry stone from the river beds to various Stone Crushers drive at break neck speed to negotiate more trips and earn more profits. Thus they are the main cause of accidents and further enhance the chances of accidents by littering the roads with stones, which roll down from the over loaded dumpers.
The residents of the townships of Lalkuan and Kichha allege that water pollution in the region owing to the Century Paper Mills in Lalkuan has taken toll of domestic animals and monkeys of the area. The people of Bindukhatta in close proximity to the mill allege that the effluent is disgorged mostly during the night time and owing to the foul odour they cannot sleep. It has also polluted the water bodies. Further the emission of smoke from the chimneys and fine ash is causing air pollution. The ash enters the houses and also settles on the roof tops causing respiratory diseases. The people allege that they have staged several dharanas and organized mass rallies against the pollution, but the administration has turned a Nelson’s eye towards their predicament. On 3rd November, 2005, the factory management signed a memorandum with the people that the air pollution shall be contained and the nullahs, which disgorge the effluents, shall be put underground but to this date, almost after two years no action has been taken.
Apart from the Century Paper Mills another factory against which there is tremendous resentment is India Glycol Ltd. in Kashipur. The villagers living around the factory complain that when the land was being purchased for the factory, they were assured of employment, but the factory management did not keep its promise. Another contention is that when the factory was being installed, the villagers were hood winked and it was wrongly shown that there is no habitation in the area sited for the factory. Ever since it came into production, the people living around complain that the factory is disgorging its effluent in the rivers Kosi and Bahella, between which it is located. Several agitations have been staged by the residents of the Swar Tahsil in the adjoining Rampur district, which have to bear the brunt of pollution. This has affected the productivity of the villages around the factory and its negative impacts are also being felt on human and animal population even in far flung places as the Swar Tahsil.          
The Bajpur Cooperative Sugar Factory is also causing excessive pollution in the area.Burning bagas generates the power used by the factory. It causes emission of smoke, fine ash and ash flakes about 2cm long from the chimneys. The waste being discharged is polluting the sub-soil water. It also creates pools of dirty water, the breeding ground for the mosquitoes. A writ petition was filed against the Central Pollution Board in the Hon’ble High Court of Uttarakhand against the State of Uttarakhand, Writ Petition No.1264 (MB) of 2004. Even after the directions of the Hon’ble High Court, the factory has not yet installed a treatment; nor has it taken any initiative for bio-composting trade effluent and for achieving zero effluent discharge from the unit.
In the report it has also been mentioned that small units and distilleries operating in Bajpur and Kashipur too are responsible for polluting the river Ramganga. These units are Cheema Paper Mill, Multival Paper Mill, Naini Paper Mill, Banwari Paper Mill and Siddheshwari Paper Mill. About Century Paper Mill and Chaddha Paper Mill it has also been mentioned in the report that these units are also the source of water pollution.
 The State Pollution Control Board under RTI in its letter dated 26. 6. 2007 has also admitted that the Total Suspended Solids, BOD and COD levels in several industrial units in the Tarai region has crossed the permissible limits. These units are, Vishwarkarma Paper Mill, Bajpur, Banwari Paper Mill Private Ltd, Kashipur, Siddarth Paper Mill, Kashipur, Multiwal Pulp and Paper Mill and Bajpur Sugar Cooperative Factory.
Similarly the effluents released by the mills has led an increase in the Biological Demand (BOD) levels, an indicator of the amount of oxygen required by micro organisms to decompose organic matter in water by 10 times the permissible limit. The State Pollution Control Board has declared that the rivers, Dhella, Bahella, Kichha and the Pilakhar rivers unfit for human consumption.
With rapid industrialization, the BOD level of river Kalyani downstream at Pantnagar has gone up six times the value measured upstream. Kalyani is at the downstream of a cluster of chemical, petrochemical, polymer, plastic, pharmaceutical and other polluting units.
But no action has been taken by the State Pollution Control Board against these polluting units as alleged by the residents of the area. The only relieving factor is that through RTI the real situation of the state of affairs has come into focus and in the near future action can betaken against them.

During the last decade there has been an increasing recognition that access to information on environment, including information held by public authorities, is key to sustainable development and effective public participation in environmental governance. The issue was first substantially addressed in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, in Principle 10.
Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of the concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings including redress and remedy shall be provided.
Recognizing that every person has the right to live in an environment adequate to his or her health and well being, the day is not far of the through RTI this objective shall soon have wings and the world will be a better place to live in.

Prof. Ajay S. Rawat                                                                          
Former Head, Department of History,                                                                   
Kumaon University, Nainital,                                                                      
Order of the Golden Ark, Netherlands,                                                                 
Chairman, International Union of Forestry                                                  
Research Organizations, Vienna, 6.07.01