Sunday, April 19, 2009

People's power triumphs Deccan Herald

Deccan Herald - People's power triumphs
The success story of Sampoorna Swachatha Andolan is very much in keeping with Gandhi’s dream of uplifting villages that constitute 70 per cent of the country.

The Andolan has been a great success in almost every Gram Panchayat in Dakshina Kannada district with full participation from the people. Ironically, while most of the villages that have bagged Nirmal Gram Puraskar have not taken up any development works, Hosangadi is soon emerging as a model village for the rest of the GPs in the region. This Gram Panchayat not only won the Sampoorna Swachatha Award, but has continued its quest for a clean village by way of novel programmes. Also, the Hosangadi GP has been vying for the Google Gram Puraskar award under the health and nutrition category.

Towards checking plastic usage

In 2008, this GP started a ‘plastic control campaign’. Accordingly, 17 plastic soudhas were built at various points where plastic waste from all over the Gram Panchayat would be dumped.

The Gram Panchayat takes up the responsibility of recycling the plastic once the soudha is filled with plastic.

This programme was kickstarted in October 2008, with a plastic awareness jatha held by the school students.

Since then, it has brought about a visible transformation in the GP and it is now rightly called the village where plastic has been controlled. But the residents of Hosangadi are not going to rest till the GP is declared a ‘plastic-free GP’.

Zilla Panchayat member Dharanendra Kumar says the success of the Gram Panchayat is in the participation of the people who have left all their differences behind them.

“Today the plastic campaign has witnessed outstanding success only because of people’s willingness to embrace change. Earlier women in households were known to burn plastic. With the help of school and college students, the ill-effects of burning plastic. The people understood what they were being told. Women now voluntarily bring plastic to the soudha,” he says.

The soudhas were full and hence the GP members cleaned them and stacked up the plastic which will be recycled soon.

The plastic campaign was started by the Gram Panchayat without any government funding. The funds required to put up permanent plastic soudhas as well as detachable soudhas are raised by the villagers with help from various donors.

The model of Hosangadi has attracted study teams from Netherlands, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Bangalore etc.

Google awards

Google Gram Panchayat Puraskar has been launched by connectivity portal to reward the best innovations in local governance by Gram Panchayats of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

Encompassing 27,942 villages in 49 districts, the competition has been launched under the ‘Inform and Empower’ initiative of

The innovation needs to be in the context of one of the following six areas - education, health and nutrition, water supply, rural infrastructure, rural electrification, resource mobilisation.

Spreading the message of cleanliness

Another programme of Hosangadi Gram Panchayat aimed to spread the message of cleanliness is the Swacha Mane - Swabhimani Kutumba programme. Under this programme, 547 BPL families in the Gram Panchayat will compete with each other to maintain a beautiful, aesthetic house. The winners will get a cash prize of Rs 5,000, Rs 3,000 and Rs 2,000 respectively. The owner of the house requires to see to it that the house is well kept. It must have a toilet with adequate water facilities.

The house must have a beautiful garden with flowers and vegetables growing. Special emphasis must be laid on herbs like turmeric, ginger, tulsi etc in the garden. The house must have a compost pit where the organic waste are dumped.

All the family members who have attained the age of 35 years must be literate and all the children between 6 and 14 years must be school-goers. These are some of the requisites for a family to take part in the competition.

While it was earlier decided to announce the winners on March 30, people of the GP have demanded that the winners be declared after monsoon, as plants grow well naturally during rainy season.

Whither Gram Swarajya?

Gandhiji always dreamt of Gram Sawarajya. (self-reliant villages). His wife Kasturba stood faithfully by him to help realise his dream of Gram Swarajya.

It was with the goal of establishing Gram Swarajya that he established the Kasturba Memorial National Trust on October 2, 1942. It was the Mahatma himself who was the first President of the Trust. In keeping with such dreams, the state unit of the same trust was started at Arasikere in Karnataka by Yashodharamma Dasappa.

Even Gandhiji’s ashes were transported and kept as a memorial in Arasikere’s Trust. The Trust was built on a 84-acre plot in the town, and worked for about 50 years towards empowering women economically. The Trust took up training in health education, bee-keeping, weaving and other occupations that could lead people on the path to self-reliance and empowerment.

On the decline

However, over the last 10-15 years, the Trust has been on a path of decline.

Owing to the apathy of authorities who were managing it, the Trust was drifting away from its original aims and intentions.

Even the area around Gandhiji’s memorial was not maintained well.

The CBSE model school that the Trust started is also under lock and key. The garden around the Trust has dried up. Land sharks now seem to be eyeing the Trust premises. It is unfortunate that a Trust that was formed to establish the glorious tenets of Gram Swarajya is in such a bad state today. The authorities concerned should take up the matter and revive the Trust to its past glory.

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