Centre for Internet & Society

Well known social worker Vasant Gangavane will be giving a public lecture on the Konkan Corridor Project at Ashoka Innovators for the Public in Bangalore on April 16, 2012. The lecture will focus on the role of Information & Communication Technology for total rural transformation by inclusive integrated development with no change of land ownerships. The event is co-organized by Ashoka Innovators for the Public and the Centre for Internet and Society.

Citing examples from the 117 village clusters in the regions of Ratnagiri and Sindhudurga districts of Maharashtra the lecture hopes to throw light on questions like what is a village cluster, what does it mean to urbanize one village cluster and what do we need to do to urbanize one village cluster, how will we organize and coordinate the project. This apart the vision, status and action plans of the Konkan Corridor Project, the skills development in each cluster, intensive agriculture in each cluster, farm produce processing, water conservation in the project area, rivers in the project area, energy, transportation, industry, science communication, and self administration in each clusters will also be discussed.


Vasant Gangavane

In the 1970s Vasant Gangavane, a management graduate from Indian Institute of Management and Wharton, returned to his village in Konkan, Maharashtra, to give his people what he felt they needed most — the knowledge to manage their natural resources. In the process, he set up several models of rural development. Gangavane found that the rate at which people migrated out of the Konkan was very high, despite the fact that the area was rich in natural resources. He studied the area and realised that land improvement and watershed development were key issues. He conducted a series of experiments in agriculture, dairy and poultry farming before setting up the Gokul Prakalp Pratishthan (GPP) in 1978. With the Maharashtra government's comprehensive watershed management programme (COWDEP), Gangavane's Pratishthan afforested 400 hectares of land in Vilye village with mango and cashew trees. Gangavane then acquired 40 acres of wasteland in the village and built water conservation structures called Gokul bandharas. This resulted in the wells in the area being recharged and ensured enough drinking water for 25 families.This model was later adopted by the Indo-German Watershed Programme.

When Gangavane's project began, the village of Vilye was bereft of young people. Its young had migrated. Now there is reverse migration and 3,000 people have benefited from the programme. The village has been transformed — water runoff has been arrested and afforestation has changed the look of the village.

After the watershed programme, Gangavane formulated a theoretical plan for model villages called the Gokul project. The aim was communication and knowledgesharing. A participatory rural appraisal is also done to explore natural resource availability, potential and use. The awareness is meant to empower people and convince them that watershed programmes can address problems of poverty and inequity. Gangavane believes that with this knowledge, and with the resources available, a small family in the area can live sustainably.

Gangavane's Pratishthan has set up an Ashramshaala at Laanja, Ratnagiri district, which is a tribal residential school, where 300 children are provided free boarding and lodging up to the secondary level. GPP has also introduced computer education in schools. For his work Gangavane was awarded the Vanashree award, Vasantrao Naik Pratisthan award and the Indira Priyadarshini Vrikshamitra award.

Download the presentation here [PDF, 228 KB]