The Torsha River flows beside the Sansad -18 of Latapata Gram Panchayat of Mathabhanga – 2 Panchayat Samiti. The vagaries of this mountainous river tormented the 2-4 thousand odd residents of the Dakshin Putimari village. Turbulent spates and irregular rising of water levels of the river isolated this settlement from the rest of the world. (more…)
Sri Roopam Mondal
REM (Gangarampur Sub-division)
Roads have contributed enormously to the lives of humans since ages. They underpin our community as well as society and allow goods to be transported to the farthest corners of the world. But for rural people roads have played a pivotal role by helping them deepen ties between communities, resulting in a healthy, vibrant and positive atmosphere in rural areas. Likewise, rural lives rely largely on safe and stable road condition to maintain communication between remote areas. (more…)
Installation of Solar Street Lights by Jateswar -1 Gram Panchayat
The Jateswar-1 Gram Panchayat is situated at a distance of 10 Km from the Falakata Railway Station and Falakata Block Office. It falls under the administrative jurisdiction of Falakata Block of the newly formed Alipurduar district.
Though densely populated, all the 17 sansads of this Gram Panchayat are backward areas in terms of development thereby causing several problems for its inhabitants. Till a few days back, the absence of streetlights was a severe problem for them. The canopy of trees covering the roads of the Gram Panchayat aggravated the problem in night time. Even in full moon nights, (more…)
Accurate decisions taken by Gram Panchayat to resist natural disasters – Courtesy Khila Gram Panchayat, Udaynarayanpur Block, Howrah
A hamlet on the banks of Damodar – a picturesque village covered by greeneries, a perfect little example of the dream called Rural Bengal. The huge water mass of Damodar flows through the village located in sylvan surroundings. The Khila Gram Panchayat remains like a small temple complex within it. Every year, during the monsoon, the mighty Damodar overflows, flooding both its banks.
The Khila Gram Panchayat is a part of Udaynarayanpur – a remote block of Howrah district. Kaliyachawk – a backward Sansad of the Gram Panchayat, too, is flooded like the other Sansads in the vicinity. Flood waters isolate the Sansad, cutting off all contacts with the outside world, leading to extreme food shortage. But nothing much could be done against the might of Nature. The 1,132 people living in this Sansad desperately needed development of a mud road connecting Narkel Beria Burning Ghats with Kaliyachawk Shibtala to counter the flood situation. They discussed the matter in the Gram Sansad Sabha of No. 15 (Kaliyachawk) Sansad, and after taking unanimous decision, requested the Gram Panchayat to make the mud road all-weather durable. As a result, the members of Khila Gram Panchayat approved the program under Community Planning and implemented the activity under the financial assistance and supervision of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. The 430 feet long and 8 foot 3 inches wide road has been developed into a concrete road (improvement of road by cement concrete from Narkelberia Swasan to Kaliyachak Shibtala at Kaliyachak) at an expenditure of Rs. 3 Lakhs.
The Pradhan of Khila Gram Pancahayat expressed her pleasure in the actualization of the project and said that the Panchayat has taken a step forward by the construction of this road and has improved the transportation facilities for the people of Kaliyachawk Sansad of Udaynarayanpur Block.
The Inspiring Story of How Maligaon Gram Panchayat, Kushmandi, in Dakshin Dinajpur Embraced Solid Waste Management for a Pollution-Free Environment
Maligaon Gram Panchayat, under the Kushmandi Panchayat Samiti of Dakshin Dinajpur district, is home to 6,321 families. Agriculture is the main livelihood of the inhabitants of Maligaon. The total population of 26,172 people of the area is divided into 17 Gram Samsads. All of them actively participate in the developmental efforts. During the primary stage of the planning process, in the primary and secondary phase of data collection and analysis, the Gram Panchayat decided to implement a project of perishable and nonperishable solid waste management. They felt that such a project would help them in maintaining the general health of the area and will also act as a means of revenue generation.
Accordingly, the Gram Panchayat decided to implement the project in its general meeting. Subsequently, in the financial year 2016-17, the Gram Panchayat began its perishable and nonperishable solid waste management program under the aegis of the District administration, ISGPP and Block administration. The said project was constructed at an expenditure of Rs.25,18,256/- . The entire amount was funded by the State Government under its Mission Nirmal Bangla (Swachh Bharat Rural Mission) in the financial year 2016-17.
Using mobile vans, Gram Panchayat employees go from door to door to collect the wastes. The wastes are then taken to the Bio-fertilizer Production Centre of this project. Here, bio-fertilizers are made from the perishable solid waste. The nonperishable solid wastes are recycled. The Gram Panchayat has supplied all the necessary equipment like vats, buckets, trolleys, dress etc. for proper implementation of this waste management project. The elected representatives and employees of Maligaon Gram Panchayat and the people of the area regularly inspect the management practices of this project. The participation of the inhabitants in the participatory Gram Panchayat planning stage and in the analysis of the collected data was commendable. These collective efforts have resulted in the successful and proper implementation of the project. Maligaon Gram Panchayat is responsibly working towards its promise of proper maintenance of this project. Moreover, the Gram Panchayat is earning revenue and increasing its own funds by selling the bio-fertilizers produced from the perishable solid waste.
How ISGPP assisted the Gram Panchayat overcome an acute water crisis
This story comes from the district of Cooch Behar, spread over an area of 3,387 sq. kms and home to over 28 lakh people. The area boasts of a literacy rate of 82%, significantly higher than the national average of 64.84%. Cooch Behar is located near the northern tip of West Bengal, with Assam and Bangladesh as its immediate neighbours. Due to its geographical position, Cooch Behar was slow to develop in the years following the independence. However, it is no longer a backward district. With the assistance of the Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats Program (ISGPP), Cooch Behar today has emerged as a glowing instance of radical development. The ISGP Program has provided excellent guidance and assistance in helping the district solve many problems.
There was a time when the onset of the monsoon used to cause much worry and agony among the local populace, chiefly due to an acute crisis of drinking water and navigable roads. The livelihoods of countless people used to come to a halt. To add to the problem, health and education, would take a blow, too. This is exactly when ISGPP, Cooch Behar came forward as a veritable godsend.
In 2013, a team of representatives from World Bank came to visit the area. Upon their advice, the ISGP Program started generating awareness among the local Gram Panchayats about the prevailing crisis over the availability of safe, drinking water. A collective effort was initiated to reach a solution to the problem in hand. Under the guidance of a determined ISGPP Mentoring Team, along with the Gram Panchayats, it was decided to put an end to all cases involving diarrhoea stricken children, nauseous mothers or a widespread want of purified water. In the presence of the ISGPP Mentoring Team, the quest for a solution began in the office of the Kisamat Dusgram Gram Panchayat in the Dinhata-2 subdivision, among the affected GPs. The Mentoring Team discussed the problem at length with GP members and the Assistant Engineer (Nirman Sahayak) and a revolutionary solution was reached at the end of this significant meeting. Keeping in mind the epithet, ‘Water Gives Life’, the construction of a Water Treatment Plant began to provide purified water to the people. A 500 ltr. capacity reservoir was built at the 8th Sangsad in front of the ‘Kisamat Dusgram’ Gram Panchayat office at an expense of Rs. 2,01,552. This also paved the way for increasing the Panchayat’s own funds as it promised to provide 20 litres of purified water among the rural population at a cost of just Rs. 15. The crisis over drinking water was finally over. Financed by the ISGPP Fund for the financial year 2015 – 16, the successful construction of the reservoir made everyone joyful. According to the latest reports from the Health Department, the rate of incidence of gastronomic ailments in the region has reduced drastically.
The chronicle of ISGPP’s noble endeavours does not end here. Gradually, the Program has gifted villages with solar lights, bituminous roads, market complexes, schools, bridges and much more. ISGP is determined to keep this wheel of progress & development spinning in the days ahead. It is the aim of the Program to make rural India the pride of the entire Nation, as well as making it a glowing example of the perfect union of tradition and modernity.
REM, Dinhata Subdivision
Cooch Behar District
The Khalore Gram Panchayat (GP) under Bagnan-1 Block of Howrah district, is a densely populated area. The place is also known for the Bagnan railway station, one of the busiest railway stations in the South Eastern Railway Zone. Lakhs of people commute via this busy railway station daily. Although, the day-time situation of this area has been okay, it used to become difficult after dusk. People have been facing extreme difficulty in travelling from one place to another late at night as there was no street-light at the station as well as its adjacent areas. Local people had a long-standing demand for street-light.
Localites had strongly demanded for the installation of street-lights during the 2014-15 Gram Sansad Sabha but the plan could not be materialised owing to lack of fund. In 2015-16 Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats Project (ISGPP) arranged for a special fund that enabled the GP to materialise their planning. Before this, Khalore GP had taken the initiative to install solar street-lights in some areas, but it failed to provide any suitable solution to the problem in hand as these lights were too few in number.
The GP had earlier decided to install LED lights on roads, but owing to certain changes in Government policy, the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency was not installing street-lights in the locality at that time. The GP then decided to appeal to West Bengal State Electricity Transmission Company Ltd., seeking their help to install lights on the electric poles. They received the necessary assistance soon after. It was decided that the cost of illuminating these street-lights will be borne out of the GP fund in some cases. In certain other areas, the GP appealed to the Panchayat Samity for financial assistance. Panchayat Samity finally agreed to the appeal after thoroughly evaluating the nature and gravity of the problem. In short, everybody stepped forward for solving the problem in question.
The scheme was drafted in November after doing several rounds in various areas and evaluating the market price of various materials required for the project. Tenders were invited in the month of December and work commenced by mid-January. Although issues pertaining to the delivery of products from WBSETCL posed some logistic challenges that deferred the entire process but in spite of this, installation of 94 nos. of LED street-lights was completed by mid-June. To finish this two-phase work of installation, an amount of Rs. 4,92,642/- and Rs. 5,12,911/- was spent respectively, adding up to a total of Rs. 10,05,563/-, out of a special grant of ISGPP for 2015-16. Additionally, the GP spent an amount of Rs. 35,895/- to increase the load capacity of the transformers as well as to install new meter boxes, which was not considered in the original cost estimation.
Street-lights have been installed extensively at every Gram Sansad under Khalore GP. 30,000 – 40,000 people, residing at Khalore and its adjacent areas, have been benefitted by this initiative. Everyone is pleased with this noble initiative by the local GP. The women, especially, are very happy as they no longer need to worry while stepping out at night. People all around are thanking their GP & ISGPP wholeheartedly.
Sarishakhola Gram Panchayat near Ghatal in Keshpur block is flood prone by its sheer nature. During monsoon residents of this area remain scared of being swept away by the deluge. There are several ponds, puddles and natural canals lining this Gram Panchayat area. On one side these numerous water-bodies act as reservoirs for holding the extra runoff from the flood water while on the other these same water-bodies act as deterrents for the locals to commute between nearby places. Although the locals somehow manage this situation by constructing temporary wooden bridges in other seasons but during the monsoon time these same locales of the villages appear as islands arrested by water.
The Gram Panchayat is aware of this situation and is ready to solve the problem. In 2013-14, the Gram Panchayat constructed a bridge with sluice gate on the kolkoli canal. It costed approximately Rs 32 Lacs. But the problem is, such canals are almost everywhere in the GP area. Even if there’s no sluice gate, constructing a concrete foot bridge of dimensions 12 meters in length and 2.1 meter width would cost Rs 18-20 Lacs. Sarishakhola Gram Panchayat did not have so much financial resources to spend on constructing a bridge in every year. In this situation the Nirman Sahayak of the GP came forward with a solution. He suggested using steel in place of concrete for constructing the bridge would substantially minimize the cost of construction. He added that if the project plan got approval he could do it successfully using his prior experience in similar jobs.
Among the projects planned by Sarishakhola Gram Panchayat for implementation from ISGPP’s 2015-16 Block Grant amount, the following two ‘foot bridge’ construction projects were also included – 1) construction of foot bridge at Amarchak sansad at Manapara over Amarchawk canal 2) construction of foot bridge at Mandalpara in Hajichawk gram sansad over kana canal.
The estimated cost for constructing each of the two foot bridges was Rs.7,23,526/-. The first of the two bridges is 12.5 meters in length and 2.1 meters in width and the actual construction cost was Rs. 7,10,283/-. The second footbridge is 11.8 meters in length and 2.1 meters in width. This area is a residing place of 350 families comprising of 2000 people. On one hand construction of these foot bridges will bring relief to the helpless families who were earlier forced to remain confined within their rooms during monsoon, on the other hand the new constructions will help daily commuters to follow the normal route instead of the alternative hectic one. In fact, now these foot bridges have eased communication so much so that even in emergency situations vehicles can travel across the bridges and reach the doorstep of the patients. Such steel made foot bridge is the first of its kind in this block, which is comparatively less expensive but more efficient.
Every Block of South Dinajpur district is suffering from water borne diseases due to presence of fluoride in drinking water. Common people are at a loss to combat against this situation. It is observed that in most of the areas bottles of 20 litre purified drinking water are being supplied on commercial basis. Some of the Gram Panchayats of the district have come forward to bring a solution of this problem. To provide purified drinking water to its citizens, Gram Panchayats are installing drinking water purifier machines with cooling facility in different areas of their domain. But the venture being expensive, it was not possible for the Gram Panchayats to make such an arrangement in every area of their territory.
Among these Gram Panchayats the endeavour of Bhatpara Gram Panchayat is worthy of mention. This Gram Panchayat installed water purifier machines in its area but that could not fully cater to the need of purified drinking water of the local people. So this Gram Panchayat took an additional measure. They have constructed two wheeled mobile water tanks to supply pure drinking water to its citizens.
These tanks carry purified tube well water. In 2015-16 financial year, they have used the ISGPP Block grant in constructing two steel tanks, each of which contains thousand litre water. It costed Rupees 1,80,000 for the construction of each tank. These tanks are available on demand in any occasion in lieu of a particular fee which will help the Gram Panchayat to have an increase in its own fund.
This activity of Bhatpara Gram Panchayat has set an example to the other Gram Panchayats and they are also keeping this programme for implementation in the 2016-17 Annual Planning.
We all are familiar with the common saying that ‘poverty spoils character’. Sometimes we ourselves use this proverb also in relation to some people around us. But the people of twenty to twenty two scheduled caste families of Bhuiapara under Godapiyashal Mouza proved that the proverb has its exception.
Bhuiapara is a small village under Godapiyashal 1 Gram Sangsad of Karnagarh Gram Panchayat belonging to the Salboni panchayat samity of Paschim Medinipur district. The village by the side of NH60 is about 15 kms from Medinipur town. All the families residing in this village are of scheduled caste community and they earn their livelihood as daily labourers. There are no agricultural activities in this village as the families living here do not own any land. The adult men of these families work only when they find any suitable chance to offer their labour. On the basis of their low income these village families run. The female members of most of these families everyday collect wood from the nearby jungle which is about 1 km from this village and after drying these woods at house; again they walk a distance of 3 km to sell it to the hotels or sweetmeat shops at Bhadutala Bazar. The daily average income of these families is not more than Rs 150. When their daily food is not ensured, it is not wise to think that they are not having any problem with water. Scarcity of water is a chronic problem to them. A few years ago a tube well was installed in this village under “swajal dhara scheme” but water supply was irregular. At the time of no functioning of the tube well, the whole village had to depend on a government well. Even in that case getting water was dependant on the whims of the landlord under whose premises the well was situated.
To eradicate water scarcity of these people the local gram panchayat in the financial year 2015-16 installed a submersible pump with a water tank by the side of the angawadi centre of this village. The act was done with the grant of ISGP Project at the cost of Rs. 1, 54,936/-.
In other cases of installing submersible pumps with the support of gram panchayat, as a part of environmental and social management, a consumer committee is formed to take legal electrical connection. In this case there was no exception. Here the role of the poor villagers is really praiseworthy. They did not forget the norm of taking legal electrical connection even after getting the service. They did not escape from their responsibility claiming they are poor. They on their own effort had formed a consumer committee and had taken legal electrical connection. The consumers as a whole have paid their electric bill for the month of October, November and December (2015) after collecting money from their families. Even they have helped a handicapped person who operates the pump twice a day, with the rest of the money after paying the electric bill. So people like Kochi Bhuia, Budha Bhuia of this village are self sufficient today. With pride they say today, “this is our asset, we will maintain it.”