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Rebuild Bihar Programme 2003 to 2011

        Over the years PGVS firm belief ‘that between the violence and silence there is space for creative non-violence’ has brought results for the organisation and raised new hope and energy amongst the grassroots communities.

       In the beginning PGVS faced many challenges, even violent opposition and persecution, from the feudal upper cast and a caste biased administration. But they preserved with non-violent, but far from silent protest against injustice and discrimination, especially in relation to peoples’ right to land and livelihood, through activities like rallies, sit-ins, public meetings, mass petitions to government policy and justice departments.

       When PGVS started the Non-violent Land Rights Campaign from 2001 under the aegis of Ekta Parishad [Novib support was enjoined from 2003] the right of land to the dalit, mushar and adivasi communities was nowhere on the agenda of the government [or any mainstream political parties] in Bihar. Only the armed Left [Naxalite] movement had succeeded to some extent in wresting land in the feudalistic socio-political scenario. And there too thousands of acres remained fallow year after year in face of armed counter-movement by upper caste land owners.

        In mid-2006 PGVS along with a few other peoples’ organizations succeeded through wide spread peoples’ mobilization and advocacy to convince the Bihar government [and the media] that land was a major issue and the root cause of violence in Bihar. This was reflected in the fact that the government finally agreed and set up the “Land Reforms Commission” under none other than D. Bandyopadhyay [architect of Operation Barga in West Bengal] in June 2006. The Commission submitted its final report in April 2008.

       During the tenure of the Commission hopes were high among dalits and poor communities that formed the EP constituency. More so, as the Commission invited them to depose and provide evidence of their landless condition in large and small Jan Sunwais, some being organized locally by the EP for the Commission. However, at this stage it also gave the government an ‘excuse’ not to entertain any land applications and/or petitions because the Commission was at work and action would be taken up after the completion of its work and the recommendations submitted to the government.

       From April 2008 the government kept the report under wraps. However, towards the end of 2009 after repeated peoples’ mobilization and advocacy through different channels it was finally tabled for discussion in the State Cabinet and Secretariat in winter 2009. Soon after, the present Government declared to the public, via media, that it would be against its interest to act upon the recommendations of the Commissions as by doing so they were liable to lose their “kurchi”.

       EP had to rethink its strategies and go back to non-violent mobilisation at an even larger scale and has since changed its focus from land applications to a demand for formation of a Land Task Force empowered under the Commission report. Not so surprisingly, keeping power issues in mind, no other political parties also made land issues a platform in the recent elections. The people are now faced with the choice of making the non-violent movement a success or taking recourse to the armed left option.

PGVS Role in Bihar Flood Relief

       In September 2007 the river Gandak overflowed flooding Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, East abd West Champaran districts in North Bihar. More than 100,000 households in nearly 400 villages were devastated overnight. Government and other relief were slow to reach people. PGVS with Oxfam Novib support delivered disaster relief to 3110 households in 72 most affected villages over a period of 32 days. After the emergency situation the organisation trained community people in 18 most vulnerably located villages and set up Disaster Management Committees capacitated to handle flood emergencies in future.

        In August 2009 the entire eastern part of North Bihar was devastated by floods as an embankment on the river Kosi collapsed in heavy rains. 3000 Villages were affected with 350,000 people rendered homeless and 700 lives were lost. Over 10,000 houses were washed away, 5000 cattle lost and thousands of acres of agriculture fields were overrun with sand. PGVS with Oxfam-Novib rendered emergency relief to 2577 households in 77 villages from September to December 2009. After the flood waters receded health and food situation worsened and the affected households had not all received the promised compensations and rehab so on local demand and need PGVS decided to continue work in those villages and the programme was included as a part of the overall Rebuild Bihar Programme. This phase was completed in the districts of Saharsa, Madhepura and Supaul on 31 May 2010.

Some Key Achievements of RBP
  • A total 3,610 families have got homestead land entitlement with joint ownership (under name of women and men together)

  • A total of 18,492 applications (12,168 exclusively submitted by women) have been submitted for homestead land in 12 districts.

  • A total 2,567 acres of Bhoodan land has been occupied by eligible beneficiaries.

  • A total 3,685 acres of Bhoodan land has been re-distributed and legal ownership ensured to the beneficiaries (mostly landless community).

  • A total 1,250 acres of Agricultural land has been occupied and now under farming by poor and marginal farmer from excluded communities.

  • 2,560 land applications by forest dwellers in Jamui district are in the verification process under FRA 2006.

  • PGVS carried out a village level land mapping in six districts in collaboration with PRAXIS and published a report and a book compiling success stories called “Landlessness and Social Justice”.

  • PGVS was very much a part of the civil society organisational pressure on the State Government to form the ‘Bihar Land Reforms Commission’ under Shri. D. Bandhopadhaya in 2006 and then extending its term by one year to 2008. 

  • PGVS has establish active alliance with of various land rights campaign at State as well as national level and 5,000 people joined the month long Janadesh 2007 foot-march organized by Ekta Parishad and 200 other social organizations. This foot-march got significant success in pressurising the Government of India to form a National Land Reforms Committee and a National Land Reforms Council chaired by the Prime Minister.

  • A total no of 456 Mutual Help Group (MHG) have saved Rs.10,24,368 as a community asset. 150 MHGs, with 1560 Dalit women membership, have been linked with Banks for group and individual entrepreneur loans.

  • The village level MHG have been federated as Block level Mahila Manch Committees that resolved 156 cases of women’s domestic violence and atrocities at the community level.

  • The Ekta Mahila Manch (Women Forum) focuses specifically on women’s right to land and property within the larger campaign of land rights in the State. It has membership of 5000 women in Bihar. This also linked with the national campaigns for women land rights. This issue has brought together many women from different castes and communities around the issue of atrocities, domestic violence and women’s right to land and property. Here also the leadership is in the hands of women from excluded communities.

  • Gram Ekais [Community Based Units] were established in 760 villages with 15,200 members. Total contributed membership funds amounts to Rs.1, 52,000.

  • Applications for 8,650 families for Job Cards were processed through the organization and 6,540 were issued. Out of this 813 people were employed for 10 to 15 days [Bihar State average is 12 days].

  • Women, Children and Socially excluded community are accessing their health need in current project area through SHG and Gram Ekai like Janani Suraksha, MCH, RSBY, Polio vaccination, ante and post natal care. More than 12,000 women have been benefited.

  • 60 per cent of all eligible children and girl children of excluded communities have been enrolled in mainstream primary schools in PGVS project area. They have also succeeded in ensuring delivery of Mid-day Meal, and other social security schemes through pressure of the women community based units.
Key Achievements in Organisation Building

       PGVS has always worked amongst excluded communities as its priority constituency to project their plight in the context of their rights and strove for achievement through strategic mainstreaming of their non-violent struggles at village, Panchayat, Block, District, State, National and International levels.

  • In 994 villages of 25 Blocks in 17 Districts of Bihar PGVS has formed a four-tiered organisation from grassroots hamlet upwards to State.

  • 983 Gaon Ekais (Village Units) have been federated to 265 GP Ekais (Panchayat Units) further federated to 25 Block Committees. A 15 person State Council has been formed from representatives of Block Committees with 6 women members.

  • 362 women groups have been formed beside ensuring 30 per cent women participation in the decision making positions in the federation process at GP, Block and State levels.

  • The organisation has 19,660 members (about 5,000 women) as on 01 January 2011. Each member contributes Rs. 10 as Annual Membership Fees against a Membership-receipt.

  • PGVS has organized several ‘Youth Voluntary work Camps’ that have successfully broken down the caste and communal barriers, at least temporarily, as they participated in the work and learning sessions together to address issues of poverty, corruption and inefficient governance. Such camps held between 2003 and 2008 at various locations for rejuvenation of Ahar-Pyne [traditional irrigation systems] provided irrigation to nearly 8000 acres of one crop agriculture land.

Summary of Organisational Achievement






EP Committees





















Please see Annex – I for details of ‘Organisation Status’


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