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.”
Introduction of GIS based technology to Gram Panchayat monitoring is a rich value addition to the state oversight being managed by a comprehensive web based application. Our website http://isgp.in is specifically designed for the purpose of providing ‘Planning and Monitoring through GIS‘.
The Geographic Information System (GIS) based monitoring system chiefly provides “real time” monitoring of GP infrastructure activities as well as capturing participation of citizens in GP level meetings with latest and real time status. Tracking the progress of activities on real time basis improves overall project management and enables transparent, accountable, timely and efficient service delivery across the nine districts under ISGP Project. The ‘real time’ data is available to the public from the website: http://isgp.in
Visual Illustration of ISGPP’s GIS based application
“In a nutshell, GIS based Integrated Planning & Monitoring System is our ultimate tool for showcasing that the GPs in West Bengal are transparent and accountable in public service delivery.”