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…)
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
“A cold shudder always came across while crossing the road. It was practically impossible to recognise the roads, amidst the over flooded Bagui”, speaks a petrified hawker from Boincha mouza looking towards the lush green tracts of agricultural land. That land was earlier inundated with water especially during the monsoon season due to the overflowing Bagui canal. The Bagui canal flows through Dantan-I, Dantan-II, and Narayangarh blocks in Paschim Medinipur and Patashpur block in Purba Medinipur. Since the canal is linked with the Subarnarekha River, the canal used to overflow with the rise in water levels in the river, especially during the monsoons every year.
It was a similar situation in Boincha mouza in number 3 sansad under Talda Gram Panchayat at Dantan-II Block where Bagui canal meets river Kheleghai. This area was similarly affected and devastated during the monsoons due to the rise in water levels of Subarnarekha. A settlement comprising of 40 Scheduled Tribe and 12 Scheduled Caste families is situated south of the Boincha mouza. As the Bagui canal runs through the middle of the village it hindered communication, economy and livelihood of the people, especially during the monsoon. Hence the villagers were forced to take alternative routes to the market for business, incurring more losses due to increased transportation cost. It was especially difficult for the children to reach the school. The children had to take a detour through Kakrajit which was an additional distance of 10-11 Kms. This led to a decrease in the number of children attending school and 21 children’s attendance was severely affected.
Daily life and economic activities were also hampered. It was very troublesome for the sick to reach Nandkuria health sub-centre and Dantan-I Block health centre. There was a decrease in the attendance of 10-12% of students in the college situated at Dantan-I. The community used to face problems in reaching the court, market place and registry office. Moreover as this mouza is bordering Dantan- I Panchayat Samiti, hence dwellers of Dantan-I also had to face the same inconveniences. The alternate route was through Monoharpur which was an additional journey of 16-17 kms.
The main festival of these two areas is the Raas Yatra. This annual festival at Kakrajit mouza at Dantan-I Panchayat Samiti is a grand affair and attracts devotees from all surrounding regions. Due to the canal, the devotees had to take a detour of additional 20 Kms through Kazipara area to reach the festival venue.
Although Gram Panchayat had planned for solutions, financial support was the major barrier. During 2011-12, the canal was temporarily renovated which failed to resolve the difficulties faced by the communities. During 2012-13, the Institutional Strengthening of Gram Panchayats Project (ISGPP) provided the breakthrough with a financial support of Rs.9,50,000.00 (Rupees Nine lakhs fifty thousand only) along with technical expertise for construction of a bridge over the canal with embankment. Along with the ISGPP grant, Rs.1,30,000.00 (Rupees One lakh thirty thousand only) from State Finance Commission grant and Rs.80,000.00 (Rupees Eighty thousand only) from Gram Panchayats own source revenue was sourced for the project.
‘Vivekananda Setu’ as it was named, has so long proved to be decisive and pivotal infrastructure for the villagers. It has been planned to be compatible with the environmental and social standpoints and its construction and existence has no harmful and hazardous impact on the natural environment and ecological system of the neighbourhood. This bridge has eased communication woes and children now attend school regularly and it has become very convenient for the menfolk to reach the markets on time to sell their produce.
Through additional effort of Gram Panchayat and the villagers the embankments have been fortified which has enabled faring on adjoining 500 acres of land, thrice a year. This has ensured economic upliftment and safety for the localities, thereby assuring a happy habitat for all. Transportation has become hassle-free. People are now reaching homes earlier than before. Earlier, the villagers had to spend extra on transportation due to additional distance covered. This money is now being saved and is being spent on food items thereby contributing to slightly improved health for children. The time saved due to this canal is spent at home thereby ensuring better attention to children and harmonious family and social life.
During the construction of the canal, many local people got employment and this bridge has eased communication. Moreover, by utilizing its own source revenue, the GP has demonstrated that the fund it generates can be used for purposes which benefit the local population. The distance to Nandakuria health sub-centre has been reduced by 7-8 Kms and villagers are easily able to reach there. Children are now able to attend school regularly, even during the monsoon season and also able to play in the adjoining fields. The trip to the annual Raas Yatra has become more convenient for devotees leading to a big congregation which directly improves the livelihood of the people of the area.
Such initiatives at the local level of governance through people participation can lead to overall improvement in the lives of the people and bring real change at the grass root level.
Welcome Mr. Onno Ruhl (Country Director, World Bank)
Welcome to ISGPP… Welcome to Kolkata!
ISGPP team would like to seize the opportunity to welcome you sir. We are extremely happy to have you with us. It’s been a great association with your team. Together, we have been fulfilling our duty of cherishing every human life.
As you might know, the key elements of ISGP project is to develop institutionally strengthened Gram Panchayats (GPs) through intensive capacity building support, performance based grant transfer, strengthening monitoring and application of environment and social safeguards & integration of vulnerable groups development framework in planning. The project till date has made significant contribution towards citizen-centric service delivery through improvement in GP planning, budgeting and implementation in a participatory approach. There has been a steady increase in the financial absorption capacity and reduction in fund fragmentation in scheme implementation along with increased financial transparency and accountability.
You will be happy to note that the GP functionaries are now enabled to integrate environment and social safeguards and inclusion of vulnerable groups in planning and execution. The project aims to consolidate its systematic interventions through further strengthening of its initiatives and replicate the project innovations across all GPs in the state.
We hope that this association of ours continues to play a major role in bringing significant changes in the rural life of West Bengal. Thank you and your team for being with us, joining us, and supporting our beginnings. Thank you all!