SUCCESS STORY: FACELIFT FOR BATHING GHAT

Convergence of beautification and waste management project

Coochbehar is considered as one of the foremost among the 23 districts of West Bengal in terms of its rich history and heritage. Remnants of the lifestyle of the Rajas and various structures built by them can be found in various parts of the district. Pundibari Gram Panchayat lies in Block No. 1 of Sadar Sub-division of Coochbehar district. This Gram Panchayat is located near the district headquarters. May be because of this proximity to urban settlement, beautification initiatives have received emphasis on the development requirements of the local populace.

A clear water canal passes beside the Sansad No. 6 (D.K. Kuthi) of the Gram Panchayat. This canal is connected to the Torsha River. The local residents have always used this canal for their bathing requirements and also for other activities like immersion of idols etc. However, the area lacked a proper bathing ghat and the locals had long demanded the construction of such facility to the Gram Panchayat. Accordingly, the Gram Panchayat decided to construct a Bathing Ghat on the bank of the canal in the financial year 2017-18 by utilizing the Fourteenth Finance Commission grants. The project was implemented speedily. Rs. 6,98,318/ was utilized for the construction of the bathing ghat and another Rs. 1,11,314/- was utilized for its beautification and electrification. Around 1100 families have been benefitted from the construction of this facility. The local women are the biggest beneficiaries of this project. The beautification drive has led to a fair for auspicious bathing ritual during Astami and attracts thousands of pilgrims. This ghat now serves as the place for various religious occasions and the immersion of Durga idols. Bijaya Utsav, to conclude the festivities of Durga Puja, is also held here.

Apart from these festive occasions, the bathing ghat has also brought in a new energy for renovation of the canal. This has also aided the water conservation project entitled ‘Jal Dharo, Jal Bharo’. Functions can be organized at this ghat even at nights because of the lighting facilities. The construction and beautification of this bathing ghat is extremely significant for the Pundibari Gram Panchayat, as the place is now used by the locals for socializing. The bathing ghat has been integrated with other development projects and as such serves as a symbol of overall rural development.

The solid waste management project of Pundibari Gram Panchayat is one of the most successful projects of Coochbehar district and this has been integrated with the Bathing Ghat project. The employees of the solid waste management project regularly collect the water hyacinth and other accumulated public wastes from the bathing ghat. This waste is then sorted at the waste treatment plant. A part of this waste is then used to create earthworm based manures. The convergence of the bathing ghat project with the solid waste management project of the Gram Panchayat, as per the advice of the ISGPP mentors, has made significant contribution in creating a clean and pollution-free rural environment. This has also led to proper adherence of the Environment and Social Management Framework of the project.

The Gram Panchayat Pradhan feels that the ISGPP is not just facilitating the social development of villages but also aiding in their beautification and upholding the age old principle of ‘Bahujan Sukhay, Bahujan Hitay’ i.e. happiness and benefit for everybody, through its continuous mentoring of Gram Panchayats and taking combined initiatives with them.

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