It Takes Two to Tango
- Raghav Goyal
- Published on 12 Nov 2020, 4:40 pm IST
- 5 minutes read
If only more districts would take a leaf from this. Sandeep Nanduri, the IAS officer in Tamil, has not only changed the face of an entire district by roping each and every `village panchayat’ in development works, but the efforts also got national recognition. A village here has bagged the first position in the National Water Awards, constituted by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- Mr. Sandeep Nanduri IAS, DM Thoothukhudi
What’s the common thread running through these three highly unlikely things: A café run by disabled people, transgenders running a dairy farming business and a small village winning national awards? The answer is Mr Sandeep Nanduri, the Taml Nadu cadre IAS officer who has made these three possible in the first place.
Silently and steadily, Mr Nanduri has been working for the people’s uplift – particularly of backward communities- as also towards the development of their land.
Thanks to the good work by Mr.Nanduri, the District Collector of Thoothukudi, Sasthavinallur (the largest and most progressive village panchayat in the district) has been recognized at the national level by grabbing first position in the National Water Awards, conducted by the Ministry of Jal Shakti. It achieved this distinction under the “Orukku NooruKai” initiative launched by the district administration of Thoothukudi last year.
‘ORUKKU NOORUKAI’ INITIATIVE
In an interview with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Nanduri said “the phrase Orukku NooruKai means ‘One hundred hands to the village’ which emphasizes on community ownership of assets. Under this community-led scheme, issues regarding Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) were taken care of after 50% of support for their resolution was made by a village panchayat applied to the district administration.”
This collaboration between villagers/volunteers and the district administration soon led to dredging of water bodies like, lakes, blinds, ponds, canals, etc., tree plantation, rainwater harvesting and plastics eradication.The role of the villagers was also to ensure participation of maximum members, whereas the role of the administration was to mobilize the CSR funds and technical support for the projects. In effect, a joining of hands, by both the villagers and the administration.
This scheme was announced by Mr. Sandeep Nanduri on July 27, 2019. It was decided that a new village would be selected every week and a water body wiould be developed by the joing efforts of Government officials and the village people.
“At first, press releases and posters were disseminated in the village panchayats to make people aware of the initiative and the procedure of applying to the district administration. With this, around 80-90 villages applied and we were able to cater to 46 such villages last year,” said Mr. Sandeep.
“SASTHAVINALLUR-THE PROGRESSIVE VILLAGE PANCHAYAT”
Sasthavinallur, with a total area of 1209.94 sq. km and encompassing 12 hamlets is one of the largest and most progressive village panchayats in the district. However, due to the lack of proper ground water management system, people were facing acute drinking water crisis during summers and at the time of droughts. Hence, farmers did not have any assured irrigation source and were primarily dependent on bore-well water for their requirements.
But, soon after the implementation of the ‘Orukku NooruKai’ scheme, there was a complete turnaround. This village became self-sustained in drinking water and other water-related issues. This became possible after the villagers and the administration decided to adopt a water management strategy to overcome this ongoing crisis.
After consultation with the farmers and local villagers, a hamlet called ‘Narayankudieruppu’ was selected for the formation of a new pond. Two philanthropists, Sargunam, and Varadharajan, who belong to Narayankudieruppu village donated their own land (cumulatively measuring 3.35 acres) to build a new pond. In addition to donating their lands, the duo mobilized the local people for the common cause and offered JCB, Hitachi excavators, and Tractors to form and deepen the pond. The pond was linked with an inlet channel, dug for a length of 1.742 km.
Due to these activities after the recent spell of rains, the groundwater level increased by 4.048 meters and 106.432 Hectares of additional agricultural land was brought under assured irrigation.
Mr. Sandeep said, “Most of the times, villagers do not even maintain the existing water bodies in their villagers but expect the government to take care of everything. However, in this particular village the people from the community stepped forward, donated their land, created a new water body and therefore it directly benefitted them. It showed water conservation has multiple benefits and it is the responsibility of people to maintain and develop the water bodies. This community-led initiative was the unique initiative, through which they rightfully won the prestigious award, and in the process the village panchayat got recognized as the best in the district.”
Through this initiative, the village bagged the first spot in the ‘Best Village Panchayat’ category of 2nd National Water Awards, announced by Ministry of Jal Sakthi.
After 46 villages started working in tandem with the district administration, steps like massive tree plantations, building check dams and trenches, reusing water waste, creating percolation ponds were taken in earnest. The results were there before everybody in no time.
The initiative launched by Mr Nanduri helped the villages in a big way. Improved drinking water availability, rain water harvesting, sanitation as well as increase in green cover and better micro irrigation brought sea-change among several villages of the district.
END OF THE ARTICLE