Uttarakhand Seva Nidhi Paryavaran Shiksha Sansthan (USNPSS)

The Uttarakhand Seva Nidhi is a public charitable trust founded in 1967. We have been working since 1987 with village communities in Uttarakhand, when we were appointed a nodal agency by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, to undertake environmental education programmes in schools and villages in the mountain districts of Uttar Pradesh, now Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand, located in the Central Himalayas of northern India, is a fragile ecological zone where human activities can cause extensive land degradation and significant societal impacts. Difficulty of access had protected this region from external influences and allowed the people living here to continue their traditional and usually sustainable practices. With the advent of education and globalisation, facilitated by roads, telephones, television, internet etc., their lives are transforming rapidly. Other factors like climate change and migration are compounding the challenges.

Over a period of time, our activities increased and diversified and, therefore, all our programmes were consolidated under a new body, the Uttarakhand Seva Nidhi Paryavaran Shiksha Sansthan (USNPSS), a registered non-profit society. In English, the name means the Uttarakhand Environmental Education Centre (UEEC).


Shri B. D. Pande Sri Madhava Ashish Shri Anil Bordia Dr. M. G. Jackson
The government of India's New Education Policy (NEP) announced in 1986, specifically stated that there was a paramount need to create a consciousness of the environment and that it should be integrated in the entire educational process. In the same year, the Planning Commission of the Government of India set up a group under the Chairmanship of Sri Madhava Ashish of Mirtola Ashram, Almora, to make recommendations for a project on giving an environmental orientation to education in the hill areas of Uttar Pradesh. This meeting was attended by Anil Bordia, then additional secretary in the Department of Education, Government of India and JC Pant, then Education Secretary in UP. During the deliberations of this group, it became quite clear that a number of voluntary agencies of Kumaon and Garhwal would have to be involved for this purpose. Further, a non-government agency situated in this region could provide leadership to the project. Accordingly, Anil Bordia and JC Pant met BD Pande, ICS (Retd), former Governor of West Bengal and Punjab, who had settled in Almora and was at that time Chairman of the Uttarakhand Seva Nidhi (USN) and requested him to lead the project through it.

The USN then set up a special executive committee with BD Pande as the Chairman and Sri Madhava Ashish, DP Joshi (a retired Chief Conservator of Forests), Madan Lal Sah (banker and educationist) as members and Lalit Pande as the honorary secretary. This committee guided the formulation and development of the programme, whilst Lalit Pande, an alumnus of the Doon School and IIT Delhi, who had returned from the USA with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, introduced the activities at the ground level and identified local partners for doing so. The Government of India provided financial support to start the activities.

The environmental studies workbook for schools was conceptualized by Sri Madhava Ashish and developed by Dr MG Jackson, a former professor at the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar. He was helped, among others, by KS Suyal, then Principal of the Gandhi Intermediate College in Panuanaula and SD Pandey who translated the materials. Dr GP Pande worked on the actual training of teachers for many years.

Initial impetus for the Balwadi programme came from Radha Behan of Laxmi Ashram, Kausani and other Gandhian workers in the region familiar with Gandhiji’s concept of a Balwadi. Among others, Champa and Rama Joshi played a pioneering role in the development of the programme.

The valuable guidance of government officials like Anil Bordia and MC Pant, later Director of Education in Uttarakhand, as well as their colleagues, was critical in those early stages.