I have to inform you that two days back I came to k
OTV, and almost all media houses of Odisha, have always supported our work on water and environment and we are obliged to them. The matter that the eminent jury nominated me as one of the four nominees is already an award. The fact that they have helped us bring water to the centre stage of development discourse in the state by supporting our efforts is already a big recognition. And all of your support showered on me too is the best award I could get.
I am sorry that I am writing this at the fag end when voting for the nominations are over and many of you must have invested your time and money in voting. I apologize for the same but hope you will understand my position and stand with my stand on the issue. Actually, I could not help it also because I came to know about the sponsors so late.
For your kind information, I am sharing below excerpts from the letter I wrote to the Managing Editor of OTV. I am sure this gives you further details on why I took such a stand:
I am really thankful for all of you my dear friends in OTV who have constantly helped WIO in its endeavor in bringing water to the centre stage of dialogue in the development discourse of the state. You have all along stood with us and in fact OTV, as well as other media groups of the state, have been the best partners in our activities. We are an informal yet the most active network on water, environment and climate change issues which is not a funded group. Unlike big NGOs and other groups who run with huge financial support, WIO works with support of its member organisations and individuals. In fact many of our programmes are self funded from my share of earning which I do from my research and journalistic assignments. And, it is needless to say, we are always overwhelmed by voluntary contribution in terms of time and intellectual inputs by many of our members and well wishers. So, without the help of OTV and other friendly media groups, it would not have been possible for us to raise the pertinent issues continuously. Therefore, before going on to write the mail, I would first like to thank you again for your constant support.
I also feel proud and privileged that the eminent jury members have chosen me as one of the nominees for the Award and the voting is still on. As you know I have all along been a simple person, who considers himself as a soldier of Water and Mother Earth; I even refuse to apply for any such awards. I had therefore refused to give consent to many friends who wanted to recommend my name for the OTV Odisha Citizen Award. However, on the last date of application, a close friend and mentor said he would not listen to me and would send the application. So, I gave the consent, also because its an initiative of OTV. I really find this a noble initiative by OTV and congratulate you all for this.
Yesterday only I came to know that the award under the Social Service category is being sponsored by a mining and steel company. I also found out a real estate company to be the prime sponsor for this initiative. As you are kindly aware, WIO has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts against diversion of water to industries/power plants from irrigation and this mining company is one of such beneficiaries. WIO has also been the only network in the state which is advocating for eviction of flood plain areas which are encroached by real estate companies and builders. While I would have felt so proud to receive any award/recognition from OTV, it would not be possible for me to receive anything that is sponsored by the company and the real estate companies because it would be a direct conflict of interest. I know the voting is on and the final name has not been declared yet. However, I write this mail to make my stand clear to you before hand so that you understand my position on the issue and take it in the right spirit. If in case my name emerges as the winner in the voting, please drop me and give it to the next person. This is my sincere urge.
For me, the nomination by the eminent jury is already an honor and I thank OTV for the constant support. By this and by telecasting my profile you have already helped in advancing the cause of water issues that are going more murkier and problematic by the day. Each vote that would have come my way is a vote for water and I hope each person who has voted for me has done that realizing the importance of water conservation in the critical scarcity situation we are already in. So, by doing this, you have already given me the award. Thanks a ton.
Thank you and all at OTV. I once again congratulate you for starting a noble initiative like the Odisha Citizen Award. I pray before the almighty that the initiative lasts long and creates the much needed impact in the society and creates more aware and awakened citizens.
Ranjan K Panda