Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) is a voluntary organization working in the eastern tribal areas of Gujarat in the fields of Health Care, Community Health, Education, Forests and Environment, Rights of tribal communities over Forests and Forest lands, Legal Aid, etc. At the same time, ARCH can not be properly described if we miss out on ideas and only describe various types of programs or activities, as it has strong moorings in ideas. As the name indicates, it is not only action, but it is the ideas, which always enlighten us, guide us, and help us steer the course of action.
ARCH currently provides primary health care services to approximately 25,000 patients mainly at Mangrol dispensary and at the Dharampur dispensary along with basic health education and preventive services such as vaccinations, prenatal care, well child care, etc.
In the rural talukas of Dharampur and Kaprada, ARCH also conducts mobile health camps in inaccessible villages for clinical services, and conducts basic health education activities in the communities. ARCH has published health education booklets in simple Gujarati for the last 15 years. More than 25 booklets are published. These booklets are well received all over Gujarat and are being translated in other languages.
ARCH was deeply involved in the just and fair rehabilitation of thousands of tribal families displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on river Narmada. Our long and sustained campaign on this issue resulted in one of the best Rehabilitation Policies ever adopted for such projects in India. Adopted by the Government of Gujarat in December 1987, this policy gave right of minimum 2 hectares of land of choice to all affected families, including ‘encroachers’ (those cultivating government lands) and landless labourers. Thereafter we worked for the proper implementation of this policy and helped about 10,000 affected tribal families from Gujarat, Maharashtra and MP in actually getting land and other benefits to which they were entitled as per this policy (see R&P of Narmada Dam Oustees).
ARCH has been working for the recognition of the rights of tribal communities over forests and forest resources for more than 20 years. Again our long and sustained campaign together with other organizations working in the tribal areas has resulted into Parliament adopting and passing a specific legislation –The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest-dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (Forest Rights Act – in short, FRA). This is the first Legislation in the history of independent India, which gives them crucial rights over forests and forest lands. It gives titles to all those families who have been occupying such lands from prior to December 2005 for habitation or cultivation purposes. Apart from this, it also gives local tribal and other traditional communities clear rights over forest resources and also the right to protect, regenerate, conserve and manage forest resources of their area. Right now our main activity is implementing the Forest Rights Act.
KHOJ (Pursuit), a magazine of ideas, has been published by ARCH for more than five years with an aim of bringing larger economic, political, environmental and social issues to the forefront. The purpose of this magazine is to generate serious debate on various developmental and environmental issues and also to rethink and reevaluate various ideological positions.
ARCH is formally registered as a public trust and society under Bombay Public Trust Act & Societies Registration Act. Donations to it are exempt from income tax under section 80G of the Income Tax Act. It is also entitled to receive funds under section 6(15)a of FCRA.