Development

Currently Tamilnadu Science Forum is running 325 Eco Listeners Clubs in all the 29 districts of Tamilnadu in the name Pasumai Niraintha Ulagathilea (In a green green world). Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board is funding for the activities of the clubs and every week, All India Radio Chennai is producing an half an hour program on Environment to be broadcast on every Sunday between 3.30 and 4.00 p.m. All the other radio stations in Tamilnadu relay this program so as to reach all the areas of the state. Pollution Control Board officials and Tamilnadu Science Forum volunteers are visiting the clubs periodically. Workshops on pollution and natural resources management are conducted at district level and state level. Resource papers, booklets and CDs are supplied to clubs to create environmental awareness. At special camps, training on activities like making paper bags, vermi compost, construction of low cost rainwater-harvesting structure, growing herbal plants etc. are given. Special thrust is given for tree planting in the seasonal months.

Out of 325 clubs, 200 clubs are located in rural areas and 125 clubs are located in urban areas. 60 percent of the club members and club leaders are women and many of them have been working as volunteers in Literacy program as volunteers. The program was started in February 2001 and will go on till December 2004.

S&T inputs in Agriculture and Rural Development

The work in this area is relatively new for TNSF. In a few blocks in Tamilnadu and in Pondicherry demonstration programmes are ongoing on in this area. In Sedapatti Block in Madurai district and in Ramanathapuram district, intervention in livelihood and agriculture is being experimented. With help from others across the country some ideas in low cost renewable technology for water management, methods for soil fertility, vermiculture, innovative technology for wasteland reclamation are in progress. In Pondicherry some of these technological and social organizational ideas have been used for tank renovation very successfully. We have formed farmer-experimenter networks (Kalanjiyam) where farmers try out some of these ideas in a part of their farm and share their experiences. These networks also function as continuing education centers for farmers. The work in on to integrate the various ideas on agriculture into a complete module which can be used to provide S&T support on agriculture to farmers.

In the area of S&T inputs in rural enterprises, again a number of experiments are in progress. In Vellore, a fruit-processing unit has been started. In many places women have been trained in food processing, soap manufacture, sericulture, milk processing, poultry farming, vegetable gardens, etc. The effort is on to guide these into becoming viable and self-supporting enterprises. This is one of the most challenging yet most essential research area within the TNSF. The demand for such enterprises is very high. But good models which can be financially viable at small scales are not readily available - much more work needs to be done before anything final can be said on the issue.

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