Minutes of the Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance
31/1/2010 Meeting, 3 PM
Vrindavan Research Institute
Hari Mohan Malaviya
Katie Jo Walter
Nirguna devi dasi
Madhumangal Shukla shared an ad posted in the local papers announcing that the MVDA is abiding by the court order. The ad warned that all illegal construction on the Yamuna must stop and that violators would be punished.
Chandan Goswami and Madhumangal Shukla will go to Kumbha Mela to garner support for efforts against the bridge at Keshi Ghat from sadhus and locals. They will use a poster created by VRINDA using images from Chandan Goswami’s presentation shared in the last BVHA meeting.
Madhumangal Shukla and Jagannath Poddar gave an update on the stay order regarding the bridge. Construction in metal works is still in progress. It is suggested that pictures be taken and sent to MVDA Commissioner.
Nirguna devi dasi spoke about the need to include the general public and make them aware of the bridge issue. She noted that theatre is a very effective tool for communicating with the public here. She also suggested that BVHA start issuing press releases, as this practice has been highly effective in promoting the work of Food for Life Vrindavan.
Jagadananda Das suggested that the BVHA (either officially or not) take out a monthly ad informing the public about heritage and environment issues and development alternatives. Many group members said that this would be an expensive undertaking, so the suggestion was made to publish a 4-page monthly newsletter on our own.
The need to get information about the bridge case and the BVHA’s concerns out to NGO’s working in relevant areas was reemphasized. This need was mentioned at the previous meeting on January 26, but action has yet to be taken in this area.
Sewak Sharan mentioned a threefold plan of immediate action:
I. Promote local awareness
II. Create a master plan for pilgrimage centers
III. Identify on a political level
Discussion took place that BVHA should make it their priority to fight any immediate threats in Braj. This raised the issue of the necessity of gaining the support of Ramesh Baba and Vineet Narain, two powerful figures who have been very effective in addressing issues in the hills of Braj in Rajasthan.
Chandan Goswami said that there are two immediate issues:
I. Fund raising needs to be pursued to cover court costs
II. Members need to set weekly petition signature gathering goals (2,000-3,000 each week was given as an example) and present their progress to the BVHA at meetings.
Chandan Goswami told the group that he and other members who were present at the first BVHA meeting had printable petitions and that these would be copied and shared with the group. It was agreed that signature collection in the greater Braj area was also necessary.
B.A. Paramadvaiti suggested that BVHA members personally visit Pushpa Sharma to let her now the BVHA’s argument and to invite her to participate in BVHA meetings. Paramadvaiti-ji emphasized the importance of trying to include and/or influence local governing individuals and departments before working against them at higher levels.
He also brought up the fact that Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa of ISKCON Bangalore offered to buy and design Keshi Ghat area, but he was turned down because politicians would lose out on contracting money.
Rajendra Verma stressed the importance of reaching out to the greater public and bringing as many people and organizations on board as possible. This sparked a discussion on the possibility of holding two meetings each week: one involving a core group of people who would operate as a steering committee and one including anyone and everyone who wants to show up and discuss ideas presented by the steering committee.
Chandan Goswami asked for an update regarding UNESCO director’s next visit to Vrindavan in February. It was acknowledged that not much has been done in preparation for this. (Note: Secretary has since learned that the visit in fact will not take place until early April). Jagadananda Das offered to follow up with Shrivatsa Goswami regarding the upcoming meeting with UNESCO.
After an acknowledgement that BVHA needs someone to follow up with members to make sure they are doing promised work, a position of BVHA Guide was created. This is a position that will rotate amongst various group members. Sewak Sharan was voted in as the group’s first Guide.
B.A. Paramadvaiti mentions the support of Rhagubabu, an employee of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fÃ¼r Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). He adds that GTZ has recently offered to create a Master Plan for Vrindavan.
Paramadvaiti-ji also suggests that BVHA member assess their skill areas and work accordingly.
It is mentioned that someone needs to talk to the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi and specifically to Professor Nalini Thakur. Katie Jo Walter had pre-existing plans to meet Professor Thakur in the coming week and agreed to talk to her about the creation of a Vrindavan Master Plan.
Katie Jo Walter notified the alliance of her plans to visit organizations in Delhi that have either played a role in trying to conserve Braj in the past or have the potential to do so in the future. These meetings had been arranged for the purpose of Katie’s research. She offered to make organizations aware of BVHA efforts and appeal to them for support. Chandan Goswami gave her permission to approach these organizations as a member of the alliance.
Manjari Ehrlichman proposed that BVHA create a list of all of Vrindavan’s religious leaders so the group can contact them and present them with information. Chandan Goswami said that such a list exists and he has it.
B.A. Paramadvaiti asks that a Meeting Coordinator position be created and filled at the next meeting.
The next BVHA meeting will take place at Kumbha Mela on Sunday, February 7th, from 2-4 PM.
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