Gram Panchayat

SUCCESS STORY: THE RAY OF HOPE

Installation of Solar Street Lights by Jateswar -1 Gram Panchayat

Contributed by:
Govind Thakur
ITM-ISGPP-II, Alipurduar

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…)

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SUCCESS STORY: A STITCH IN TIME

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.

SUCCESS STORY: THE DROP OF LIFE

How ISGPP assisted the Gram Panchayat overcome an acute water crisis

1_optThis 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 2_optguidance 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.

Reported by:
Arijit Chatterjee
REM, Dinhata Subdivision
Cooch Behar District

Success Story: From Darkness to Light

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.

Blog_1_Jul-14Localites 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 Blog_2_Jul-14Electricity 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.

Low Cost Bridge: A Unique Initiative

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.

Wooden sanko at Hajichak before implementation copyTHajichak bridge after completion 3 copyhAmarchak bridge after completion

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.

ISGP Project : Planning & Monitoring through GIS

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

Capture4_Fotor

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.” 

Bridging Happiness Into Lives…

“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.

West Bengal Gram Panchayat    Gram Panchayat in West Bengal

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.