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For further study

AVAG meets Panchayat
Presidents

Nov '02

 

AVAG meets Panchayat
Joint Development Councils
March '02

Procession

The Panchayat President, Vice President and Councilors from 22 Panchayats around Auroville met together and with Village Action at the AVARC office. 60% of the invitees came, including the government official (MLA) of the area. Altogether there were 22 leaders present, along with the AVAG staff and Aurovilians working in the field.

Auroville initiative

AVAG development workers had requested the meeting, so that the village leaders with whom they are working could gain a clear and comprehensive picture of Village Action and the possibilities for village development through common projects.

After introductions and giving everyone a chance to getting acquainted, the Village Action team presented its main areas of work: the educational activities in village schools, the community development programmes including men's and women's clubs and microprojects, the particular activities with women and young people, such as savings and loan, income generation projects and legal counseling.

Some ideas of working together

  • The importance of forming a Village Council, where the leaders - both elected and traditional - meet and plan together with representatives of the women's clubs and the men's clubs, and the parent-teacher association, was stressed. Only with such a firm base with all the people of the village is it possible to work effectively with the government and other development agencies. Microprojects* to address problems where there is no government provision.
  • Some of the possibilities of making individual toilets and improving availability of drinking water with DANIDA, or taking up waste management on their own initiative and then connecting with EXNORA, or starting self-help groups for income generation under the government programmes and rain water harvesting projects were explained.
  • The Namaku Nameh Thittam programme of the government, which can provide funds for taking up village improvement projects such as deepening the pond, making road, digging new well, was discussed. Presently this fund is under-utilised in our area due to lack of collaboration between people and leaders.

Strong request for future joint meetings

The assembled leaders were very happy to learn about these opportunities, expressing eagerness to take them up for the benefit of their villages. Already they were expressing eagerness to meet more often and regularly focus on village development. They explained the problems they are facing in working with the government, because the funds they are allotted do not come on time. The people ask them for small village improvements and there is no money at all. Then suddenly the government will release Rs two lakhs (US $4166) for erecting a public toilet. When the people are struggling for drinking water, they can only complain when such a project seems to be getting precedence. Although they have tried to explain this to government officers, they don't seem to be taking heed. They hope that if we invite the officers for a joint meeting, perhaps things could change for the better.

Need of a BPL list

Another problem relating to working with the government is the drawing up of a list of all the people in the village who fall 'Below the Poverty Line'. This BPL list is a very important one for selecting beneficiaries for government programmes, and the previous incumbents had filled it up with their friends and relatives. This had made the implementation of government programmes difficult, something which AVAG itself had experienced. Now, the newly elected leaders would like to make the new lists with the help of the AVAG women's and men's groups.

Conclusion

The conclusion of this already very positive meeting was a strong determination by the Panchayat leaders to get a Village Council established in each village. This should be accomplished within two months, and that would mark also the next regular meeting of the Panchayat Leaders and AVAG. They would like to continue meeting every two months, to look at cooperation for the development of the villages.

Additional decisions taken at the meeting

  • To make a joint effort for solving the problem of electrical failure in this region
  • To make necessary arrangements for the maintenance of public toilets constructed by the Government in each Panchayat
  • To organise more service camps and awareness programmes in the villages
  • To organise an exposure visit to Koothampakkam model village Panchayat in Thiruvallur District
  • To invite resource persons from the Government Departments like DRDA, Women Development Corporation, DANIDA, HUDCO, Social Welfare Board for our meetings in the future

Contact: avagofficeauroville.org.in


* The AVAG Microproject Fund will support self-help projects for village improvement when a recognised group from the village identifies a project, makes an estimate and puts up one-third of the cost themselves (cash, kind or labour). In this way, not only are facilities improved, but community organisation is built up as well.

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