A roadmap to sustainability

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As part of the Give Goa Project community outreach programme, the students of GIM are working with villagers of Morlem and Harvalem to chalk out a blueprint for sustainable development in rural Goa. NT KURIOCITY learns more

As part of the Give Goa Project community outreach programme, students of Goa Institute of Management are working along with the villagers of Morlem and Harvalem located in the hinterlands of Goa to develop a roadmap for sustainable development of the village with specific annual actions and targets over a five-year period.

Student outreach initiatives to educate young minds about sustainable practices including judicious use of natural resources, waste segregation, water usage, energy saving methods are at the core of the programme.

Commissioned by GIM’s Centre for Excellence in Sustainable Development, the programme also documents the current scenario of the village on various parameters like demographics, economic parameters, electricity consumption, water sources and consumption, waste management, natural ecosystem, and other relevant parameters.

According to the director, GIM, Ajit Parulekar, the Give Goa Project offers opportunities of holistic learning that complement the institute’s rigorous study programmes. “GIM has always stayed consistent to its mission to nurture leaders for sustainable business of the future. Ethics, values and corporate governance has been at the core of our pedagogy.”

At the end of each year the student group share a hand-over to the next batch of students ensuring continuity. The faculty guide stays constant during the five-year period.

And this particular project involved identifying needs of the villagers, community engagement, mapping data, analysis, identifying funding opportunities and more, says associate professor and faculty guide on the project, Vithal Sukhathankar.

Sonali Sahoo, who was part of the team working with Morlem villagers, says that when they met with the local authorities, school teachers and villagers in Morlem they realised that children and adults alike were not aware of basic waste segregation practices and awareness on natural resources. “Climate change is a global issue which is being addressed across countries. We felt we needed to educate young minds on sustainable living practices and educate children on respecting nature, avoid wastage of any kind, reduce use of plastics and keeping surroundings clean,” she says.

The team working on the Harvalem project received similar findings during their assessments. “The students were extremely smart and eager to learn and engage but lacked practical knowledge about sustainability,” says Jonathan Fernandes who was part of this team.

Together the teams from GIM planned contests, art sessions and fun interactive workshops for the children in Morlem and Harvalem to drive home the point on sustainability.

And according to student, Shruti Chandra the residents were very accepting of the suggestions regarding sustainability practices. “The Panchayat representatives and school authorities especially the headmistress came on board with our plans and offered whole-hearted support to the initiative,” she says.

The students also recommended the creation of a localised grid connected solar power system for the sole purpose of meeting some of the energy needs of the villages and surrounding areas.

“The average use of energy in each household in the village is estimated to be relatively low. Power outages are frequent, especially during the monsoons. These two reasons warrant the effectiveness of the proposed idea,” says student, Michelle Barretto. “As far as profitability is concerned, the initial investment will be fairly high, but it will prove to be lucrative in the long run.”

The student-lead team discussed the solar project concept with the local panchayats and with Goa Energy Development Agency (GEDA) with regards to the feasibility of solar panel installation on the roof of the Morlem panchayat structure. The students went a step ahead and also contacted dealers and received the cost estimate which was presented to the concerned authorities.