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Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan
Dr. Lakshmi Unnithan

Vikalpsangam is a group who works on the alternative ways of meeting human needs and aspirations, without trashing the earth and without leaving half of humanity behind. A Statement on the need for Creative Long term Alternatives in view of COVID-19 by VikalpSangam group was put out on March 28/2020. Vikalp Sangam reports as India and the world face a completely unprecedented crisis due to the spread of COVID-19 virus, the first and immediate response must be health And treatment facilities, physical distancing, relief and basic needs packages to workers, basic need services, and other such measures that would both reduce the risk of spread as also provide economic and survival security to those worst affected not only by infection but by the shutdown of ordinary life.

Vikalpsangam core group has urged a consideration of facts put out by them. They have given significant importance to the Agriculture too in the facts. They demand putting a moratorium on all diversion of natural ecosystems for infrastructure, mining and commercial purposes as there is a clear and scientifically established link between ecological destruction and the spread of diseases like COVID-19. They also reiterate on the fact that this could lead to the disruption of natural balances and interdependencies. They deem it as crucial and instead request to initiate other alternatives for meeting livelihood and development needs.

They also have reiterated the importance of promoting ecological design and sensitivity in all development and livelihoods. They also go on to say that a clear policy and programmatic direction is needed for ecologically sustainable and equitable ways of generating livelihoods and jobs. Orienting existing schemes like MNREGS, housing, agriculture and others towards this is eminently possible. Support to farmers during the time of shifting to organic and biodynamic farming is very essential says VikalpsangamCoregroup. Special assistance to be given to small farmers, pastoralists, fishermen and forest dwellers. They also demand for a complete stoppage of GMO trials.

Strengthening of self-governance through gram sabhas, area/ward sabhasetc needs to be done. Implementation of local self-governance to its fullest extent, a true people’s democracy is crucial. Gram sabhas, area/wardsabhas and other local governance institutions will need help to build capacity and generate resources, so that they can govern their lands and ecosystems, their economic and community lives and to do this in a Manner that ensures representation and participation of marginalized Sections to ensure social justice.

Strengthening of local, self-reliant economies need to done at all levels and it is now evident that the global products moving in and out is extremely vulnerable and is prone to collapse. Institutions of local self-governance must be provided with the resources, technical assistance and other forms of cooperation in order to grow their own local, self-reliant economies using local and new skills and resources, catering first and foremost to local needs.

There should be a  Redesigning of urban and semi-urban settlements in such a way that the workplaces and residence of people are very close. Self-governance through sabhas to be empowered and urban natural ecosystems to be regenerated and protected through citizens forums.

Information Courtesy: Vikalpsangam Core Group Press Release

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