Smart cities cannot be deemed to be complete without smart villages. In that respect, Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) hopes to create a model of a self-reliant and smart village across 6 lakh plus villages throughout India.
SAGY is a step towards building an ‘Ideal Village’ that offers its inhabitants increased opportunities for holistic growth apart from basic amenities.
Inspired by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ (SAGY) on 11th October 2014. The objective of the Yojana is simple. Each Member of Parliament (MP) is expected to adopt a village, ensure development of physical and institutional infrastructure in the adopted village and turn them into ‘Adarsh’ or model villages. The ultimate objective is to develop three Adarsh Grams per MP by March 2019. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) per MP will be selected and developed by 2024.
Funding for SAGY will be raised through voluntary contributions at the local level. Additional resources will be tapped from programmes like Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), MGNREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, MPLADS fund, Centre and State Finance Commission Grants and CSR funds.
SAGY envisages integrated development of the selected village across multiple areas such as agriculture, health, education, sanitation, environment, livelihoods, etc. It aims at instilling values such as gender equality, social justice, spirit of community service, eco-friendliness, local self-government, transparency and accountability in public life etc. in the villages and their people so that they get transformed into models for others.
SAGY, launched by the Ministry of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation aims to realize the vision of ‘Gram Swarajya’
A Lok Sabha MP has to choose a Gram Panchayat from within his/her constituency while a Rajya Sabha MP has to choose a Gram Panchayat from the rural area of a district of his/her choice in the State from which he/she is elected. Nominated MPs may choose a Gram Panchayat from the rural area of any district in the country.
Coming to ground realities of the scheme, here are a few notable cases.
India’s most famous batsman and MP Rajya Sabha Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar adopted a village, Puttamraju Kandriga in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. The village suffered chronic water shortages and didn’t have adequate toilets but everything changed once Sachin took the village under his care. He released about Rs. 3.69 Crore from the MP Local Area development scheme (MPLAD) to begin the transformation of the village. Hindu Business Line reports, ‘As on 29th March 2017, the village as per has round the clock water supply, a toilet in each house, is Open Defecation Free (ODF) and has an underground drainage system and Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) amongst other facilities. There has been a drastic change from its beaten down look 2 years back.’ Dubbed ‘Sachin’s Village’ the 399 odd inhabitants of this village, as per the 2011 Census, feel privileged that the ‘Master Blaster’ has adopted this village. D Chenna Subbaiah, a resident comments, “Sachin has provided roads, water and drainage in the area.”
A community hall built at a cost of Rs.1.15 Crore is the pride of the village and is used for a variety of functions. It has a capacity of accommodating 300 people. Kokolu Bujjaiah, a lemon farmer says, “I earn about Rs. 1800-3000 for 80 kg of lemons that I get from my 1-acre farm. I have two sons but my livelihood is not enough. I am happy with Sachin’s efforts but would feel relieved if my livelihood also improves.’ Along with the MPLAD funds, the state government has spent Rs. 4.5 Crore. Though the winds of change are visible, the village has a long way to go to acquire the adarsh village tag.
PM Modi’s Village
Jayapur village in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh has been adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Around 650 toilets have been built in the village but it is yet to achieve the ODF status. Maintenance of toilets is a major issue with delinquents vandalizing property. Lack of adequate penalty emboldens these miscreants. In terms of electrification, two 25 kV solar panels have been installed by private companies. As a result, Jayapur gets about 12-14 hours of electricity but universal electrification still eludes the village of 4000 inhabitants.
Moreover, 100 solar street lights have been erected in the area and distribution of 600 solar lamps is underway. Under the Atal Awas Yojana, Vanvasis, a tribal community that lives near forests, has been allotted one-room pucca houses. But roads built within the Jayapur area have developed potholes due to lack of coordination between government and private agencies. Nevertheless, in comparison with other villages which have minimal toilet coverage and receive about 5-6 hours of electricity, Jayapur is still in a better condition. Better co-ordination, appropriate penalty for willful destruction of public property and improved infrastructure is needed.
Village strives towards sustainable reservoirs
Prem Das Rai, member of Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and MP from Sikkim adopted Kitam Manpur (KM) village in south district of Sikkim. KM lies on the rain shadow area of Darjeeling hills. The mountain springs locally known as Dhara are the natural discharge of groundwater from unconfined aquifers. Rural households access water from these springs, mostly through gravity based piped systems. With increasing population, degrading health of watersheds and impact of climate change, the lean period discharge of these springs is declining and as a result, villagers face acute shortage of water from December to May.
Rai decided to launch a unique spring-shed development initiative ‘Dhara Vikas’ aimed at enhancing the groundwater recharge and subsequent lean period spring discharge. A series of trenches along the contour lines were dug. To prevent soil erosion, horticultural and forestry plantations were undertaken in the barren lands. Small ponds were dug at regular intervals to arrest the flow of water and to facilitate groundwater recharge. Majority of the work was carried out under the MGNREGS. This has led to rejuvenation of groundwater levels and has also lessened episodes of drought.
SAGY officials have taken cognizance of existing model villages and hope to replicate the infrastructure that is present in these villages. Some of the selected villages are;
- Awarded ‘Cleanest village in Asia’ in 2003 by Discover India magazine, Mawlynnong, located in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, is so scrupulously clean that one can’t find a polythene or cigarette butt lying around. It has a lot to do with villagers abhorring plastic and adhering to a strict code of keeping their surroundings clean and in consonance with nature. Modi acknowledged Mawlynnong as ‘Cleanest village in Meghalaya’ and told the village headman Thomlin Khongthohrem to keep up the good work via the monthly radio talk, ‘Mann ki Baat’.
- Punsari village, located in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat, is a village that has amenities one would rarely see across villages in India. Funded by the Indian government and the village’s own funding model, every home in the village has toilets. There are two primary schools, a primary health centre, street lights and a drainage system to cater to the needs of the approx 6000 inhabitants. Village headman Himanshu Patel along with the 11-member village council spent $2.28m on development schemes between 2006 and 2012. Today, Punsari is Wi-Fi enabled, has CCTV cameras installed at strategic points and a public address system which covers the entire population with the help of about 140 loudspeakers installed all over the village. It is extensively studied by urban planners so that similar models can come up elsewhere in India.
Ultimately, SAGY is an initiative that needs consistent efforts from all stakeholders to transform villages into ‘Adarsh Gram’.