Gram Panchayats

SUCCESS STORY: FROM WASTE TO GOLD

The Inspiring Story of How Maligaon Gram Panchayat, Kushmandi, in Dakshin Dinajpur Embraced Solid Waste Management for a Pollution-Free Environment

111Maligaon 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, 222ISGPP 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.

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Exemplary Activity of A Gram Panchayat

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.  

12. Movable Water Tank-Bhatpara

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.

Even In Poverty Where Head Is Held High

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.

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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.

Road to ODF West Bengal

30th April will be ’Nirmal Bangla Diwas‘ this year onwards. With Nadia to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) being the first district in the country, West Bengal is about to witness a major stride in its Mission Nirmal Bangla to eliminate open defecation from the rural landscape for a cleaner, safer and healthier Bengal. Perseverance of the district administration towards construction of about 3.09 lakhs individual household level toilet coupled with extensive training and behaviour change communication brought them closer to the prestigious title of being the first ever ODF district in the whole country.

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The ISGP Project which has pioneered GIS based GP planning and activity tracking as also Grievance Redress Mechanism system through Web and toll free helpline has now collaborated with Mission Nirmal Bangla for ODF Gram Panchayats. Ever since Mission Nirmal Bangla programme has been launched state-wide, ISGP Project team has been an integral part of it to function as district level resources to impart training to Panchayat Institutions to promote open defecation free sanitation habit in rural areas. The team has been working as district level hubs in dissemination of knowledge among the stakeholders, motivating institutions to undertake campaign on various initiatives complementing efforts of Mission Nirmal Bangla. ISGP Project team has been entrusted with the responsibility to implement Solid Waste Management schemes in 200 GPs within the project universe. The Solid Waste Management scheme is one of the key and challenging interventions under Mission Nirmal Bangla. District Coordination Units of ISGP Project are holding sensitization workshops with potential Gram Panchayats for social mobilization. In the next phase, selected Gram Panchayats would be trained on operational aspects of solid waste management initiative and its sustainability. One time financial aid worth Rupees Twenty Lakhs would be provided to each of the Gram Panchayats for creating infrastructures like central processing units, household level waste bins and waste transportation system etc.  The project Gram Panchayats, having received mentoring support for last four years to gain institutional strength to delivering better civic services are now prepared to demonstrate that they belong to “Next Generation Panchayats” which is modern, strengthened, transparent and cleaner.

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.