Once sleepy village is Telangana CM's pick for rural empowerment
Rajamouli (left) and Srinivasa Murthy talk about the success story of Gangadevipally at the Gram Panchayat office.
Hyderabad - To find answers to these questions, Khaleej Times visited Gangadevipally to get first hand information and interact with the people.
What is it that makes Gangadevipally, a sleepy village about 30km from Warangal town in Telangana, the most-talked about rural community, so much so that it even found mention in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent speech at a function on rural development? Why is it that Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao zeroed in on this village, with just a population of a little over 1,300, as the launch pad for his ambitious 'Gram Jyoti' programme which envisages rural development through village empowerment and people's participation?
To find answers to these questions, Khaleej Times visited Gangadevipally to get first hand information and interact with the people who put the village on not just the Indian map but attracted international attention.
To start with, Gangadevipally is one of only three villages identified by the Centre as 'Model Villages' based on different factors. "Punsari villages in Gujarat was chosen for use of technology in rural development and education, Hivrebazar in Maharashtra was identified for its irrigation system and water conservation programme while our village was selected for the participatory mode of development we had adopted with every household in the village involved in developmental activities in one form or the other," Village Development Committee (VDC) president and former sarpanch of Gangadevipally K Rajamouli told Khaleej Times reeling out the achievements of the village which includes constitution of 25 committees in which every household has presence.
Another landmark achievement, among many, is the complete stoppage of open defecation, a scourge that runs through the length and breadth of rural India. "We took up massive awareness programmes through talks, plays and songs when we took up construction of toilets in every household way back in 1999. We completed the project within a record time of three months between November 1999 and January 2000. Though we completed the toilet project in three months, it took us three years to convince the villagers of the importance of sanitation, and by 2003, the practice of open defecation was completely stopped," said Rajamouli, who is the driving force behind the developmental activities in the village.
The village administration also takes up periodic inspection of the toilets in every household to ensure that it is properly maintained and is not used for other purposes like storage. "We have also introduced a fine of Rs500 against open defecation, but we have not, except on a couple of occasions, had to enforce this penalty," he said.
The VDC president, who has been invited to international conferences abroad on rural development following Gangadevipally's stellar performance in the field, also takes pride in pointing out that purified drinking water is made available to the households at an unbelievable rate of Rs1 for 20 litres.
"Many find it hard to believe it but we have been doing it for years now. In fact, officials and representatives of voluntary organisations from over 30 countries have visited our village to study our success story, particularly our safe drinking water programme," Rajamouli said, adding that even the tap water has not gone dry even once in the past 22 years mainly because of the water management system they have adopted.
Are there any more accomplishments that the village has? "Yes, of course. Gangadevipally has the record of ensuring that all the children in the village go to school. There is no instance of child labour in our village since all the children attend school. There are about 120 children enrolled in primary school and another 70 in high school, and we have 100 per cent literacy in the 15-50 age group. And we have an Anganwadi where pre-school children are taken care of. Besides, Gangadevipally also has its own liquor prohibition in force since 1982. Sale of liquor is prohibited in the village, but I must say that there are people who consume liquor in neighbouring areas. But their numbers are low since they do feel guilty about what they are doing."
Acknowledging the massive contribution of Rajamouli in transforming Gangadevipally into a "neighbour's envy", Srinivasa Murthy, a retired teacher who actually hails from another place but has made this village his home, says there are problems that the village faces.
"Since the village is basically a farming community, we have a major problem with water for irrigation. We have a village tank, but it is unfortunately not reflected in the revenue records. We would like to convert it into a percolation tank but we can't take advantage of government schemes like "Mission Kakatiya" (a flagship project of the Telangana government to de-silt village tanks) since it doesn't exist as per revenue records," he said.
The rewards Gangadevipally has reaped in the past for its accomplishments include "Nirmal Gram Puraskar", a national award for being a model village, and a Rs500,000 aid from Google for best Gram Panchayat. It does have its fair share of problems like the sustenance of the school in the village.
"We almost had to close it down for want of government support. We just have two teachers against a requirement of at least six. We have sought permission to convert it into an English medium school but there has been no response from the government so far," rues Rajamouli, who was felicitated by the chief minister on Wednesday at an interaction session with officials to highlight the benefits of "Gram Jyoti" programme.
KCR, as the Telangana Chief Minister is known, has picked up Gangadevipally for obvious reasons to launch the "Gram Jyoti" programme scheduled for August 17. Rajamouli and his dedicated team are hoping that they would be encouraged to push harder for development by the chief minister in the form of governmental support. Will their dreams come true? That is the million dollar question!
> Gangadevipally is one of only three villages identified by the Centre as 'Model Villages'
> Village selected for the participatory mode of development we had adopted with every household in the village involved in developmental activities in one form or the other.
> It took up massive awareness programmes to stop open defecation and constructed toilets in every household in a record time of three months way back in 1999
> Provides purified drinking water to the households at an unbelievable rate of Rs1 for 20 litres
> The tap water has never gone dry even once in past 22 years because of the effective water management system
> In Gangadevipally there is no child labour as all the children in the village go to school
> About 120 children are enrolled in primary school and another 70 in high school, and they boast of 100 per cent literacy in the 15-50 age group. They have an Anganwadi where pre-school children are taken care of.
> Sale of liquor is prohibited in the village
> The rewards Gangadevipally has reaped in the past for its accomplishments include 'Nirmal Gram Puraskar', a national award for being a model village, and a Rs500,000 aid from Google for best Gram Panchayat