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Cooperatives plan long-term measures

By T. Ramakrishnan

CHENNAI, JAN. 20. About 140 tsunami-hit villages in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh may be the focus of aid from two leading organisations in the cooperative sector.

Both short-term and long-term relief and rehabilitation measures will be undertaken in the villages, and the field-level cooperative society, either belonging to fishermen or farmers, will be the critical link in translating plans of the two organisations into reality.

To set the process in motion, top representatives of the organisations — National Cooperative Union of India and ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) Domus Trust — held discussions with senior officials of the cooperation departments of the three States here on Wednesday. Earlier, they met the Registrar of Cooperative Societies of the Tamil Nadu Government, R. Kannan.

Two components

Explaining their plans, Bhagwati Prasad, chief executive of the NCUI, an apex cooperative organisation, and B.D. Sharma, senior consultant of ICA Domus Trust (Asia-Pacific region), an associate body of the ICA that is a non-governmental association headquartered at Geneva, Switzerland, told The Hindu that there would be two components of their relief and rehabilitation programme — social mobilisation and community development. "We intend to cover not only members of cooperative societies but also those who are not part of the cooperative movement," Mr Sharma said.

Rajiv D. Metha, Director of ICA Domus Trust, said the proposed programme would focus only on software component. For example, people in the villages would be trained on disaster preparedness.

A similar model was followed in Gujarat at the time of Bhuj earthquake in 2001.

Asked about the damage to cooperative societies in the tsunami-hit areas, Mr. Sharma said the fair price shops being run by primary agricultural cooperative societies had been affected.

Mr. Prasad said the assets of cooperative societies engaged in fishing and salt industry were also heavily damaged. An on-the-spot study would be undertaken shortly.

On the donor agencies that would be approached for funding the proposed programme, Mr. Metha said the USAID and the Department for International Development of the British Government would be among the agencies. The United Nations Development Programme had approached the ICA to join its international loop of non-governmental organisations.

The Institutes of Cooperative Management in the States concerned would be the nodal agencies for implementing the programme.

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