Thiruvananthapuram: Panchayats have given the thumbs down to Primary Environment Care, an ambitious participatory project to instill eco-awareness at the grassroots level. Though the last date for the receipt of proposals under Primary Environment Care was revised twice, not a single panchayat had submitted an ecological restoration project. Neither the Environment Department nor the local bodies seem keen to pursue the project.
PEC is a 'grama panchayat'-level project for local ecological revival. Under the project, launched by the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DoEEC), a panchayat will have to implement at least one project having a tangible environmental outcome. It could be the restoration of a defunct pond, cleaning a water source, evolving or implementing a solid waste management system.
“It is a bottom-up approach,” said a top DoEEC official. “We want the panchayats to identify a project associated with environment health rather than an outside agency imposing a project on them,” he added. The other objective, the official said, was to inculcate environmental awareness at the local level. “The expectation is that discussions at the grama sabha level on the kind of projects to be adopted will enhance local sensitivity towards environment-related issues,” the official said.
However, a top Panchayat Directorate official said that there was virtually zero awareness about the project. “The Environment Department could have been more proactive. It could have called meetings and created a buzz around the scheme,” the official said. Each project under PEC will get a maximum assistance of `2.5 lakh. The project has to be completed within six months, too.
Procedural difficulty is cited as another reason for the lack of interest shown by panchayats. “We need to file some 11-12 items in the proforma, some of which are too cumbersome,” a panchayat official said. However, the DoECC officials said that they merely seek standards information like project details, plan of implementation, resources offered by the panchayat, break-up of the budget and so on....