Nirmal Gram Puraskar in 2007, Shubhram Award in 2008, Google Gram Panchayat Puraskar in 2010 all these awards won by a village that does not even exist 53 year ago. Pandurangapuram village in Nandyal Mandal of Kurnool District has been winning many such awards and accolades for the tremendous transformation that it has undergone for the last 5 decades
Today this flourishing and happy village is setting up an example for others to follow. An example of transforming lives through well planned and sustained development efforts. A closures of look at the transformation of what was once a small habitation of Chapirevula village into a well developed panchayat as it is today shows that this development was well planned and executed. This success story has been well structured. The people here have laid a path to prosperity.
How it happened
Elder’s long term vision
Voluntary participation and self-help
It was in the late fifties that a group of 18 families from Telnali of Guntur district migrated to Chapirevula in Kurnool district in search of lands for the homes and hut. The first challenge faced by migrants was integrating with their neighbours, they succeeded in overcoming this challenge with a help of a local leader, Sri. Yerrabolu Subba Reddy, Peddayana (the elder) as he was firmly referred by everybody, a respected freedom fighter, it was Peddayana’s basic Gandhian tenant of dream perceiver and achieve that place pace village on the path to progress and prosperity.When all the elders met Yerrabolu Subba Reddy he welcomed and took care of all of us. He protected us like his own children; we were in Chapirevula for one year.
The founding families together acquired 300 acres of land in the catchment area of the KUNDU River. The elders decided to set aside 15 acres at a higher elevation to build the village. Taken over 50 years ago, this location above the maximum flood level of the KUNDU River is a shining example of the foresight of the village elders. This foresight is validated by the fact that this village was not submerged even in the extensive floods in October 2009, when most of Kurnool district was ravaged by nature’s fury.
Naming of the village
The true democratic sprit of inclusiveness and unanimity of opinion of the stakeholders can be trace right back to the naming of the village itself, the families got together and decided to name the village after a god. All the people here were asked to participate by writing the name of their favourite god or goddess on a small piece of paper. A child then picked one paper from the entire lot. The piece of the paper picked by the child had the name of lord Panduranga written and so the village was named pandurangapuram, the people also decided that Panduranga would be the presiding datee of the village and decided to construct a temple of the god right in centre of the village.
After laying the foundation stone, we made a shed and placed the picture of Lord Panduranga, for about 15 years this was where we did our pujas. Once things got better, all the families got together and decided to build the temple, in all it took 30 years to build this temple.
When this village was formed, the elders decided that the central plot of the land would be divided into four parts, the temple, school, village well and the mahila mandal building would come up in each of these central plots. Even today, this is how things are in our village. Having them at the centre of the village would make them accessible to everyone in the village. All the elders decided that fund and voluntary labour would be sourced only from our village. Donations were taken from the formers every year. Even today the temple is in the centre of the not only the village but also in the lives of people here. Many marriages are performed in our temple, we have bought all the furniture and utensils needed for such festive occasions in one's family. These are hired out to the people and the revenue thus generated is spent towards the upkeep of the temple and also other development activities.
Just like in the process of naming the village, democratic practices found significant raciness in everything, that the people here undertook from then on, this small habitation grew from stem to stem and pandurangapuram became a gram Panchayath in 1995. Democratic decision making became the signature process for all the development activity in pandurangapuram. The role of the grama sabha stands destiny to this. People come together at the periodical meetings at the grama sabha and discuss the felt needs, different needs are discussed and prioritized, and consensus is reached on the projects to be taken by the gram panchayat. The gram panchayat then discusses these projects further and constitutes committees for different projects. In our village all the people get together and discuss the projects or works to be taken up. All the people are involved in the entire decision making process. As everyone is involved, people feel the responsibility to get the things done and this ensures speedy completion of projects. The pandurangapuram gram panchayat has today set up 10 committees to implement monitor operate and maintain different projects. We have 10 committees in our village. It is through the committees that we execute all the projects. The people whole heartedly support the committees. Everything gets done under the supervision of the village elders, all elections here have been unanimous. All the members of the various committees volunteer their services and do not take any remuneration for their services. All the committees are given the independent responsibilities under the direct supervision of the gram panchayat, these committees have ensured that all the projects that are speedy implemented in pandurangapuram.
A unique feature of the development here is that the people are not rigid about forming a fixed number of committees. As and when there is a need, a committee is set up. For example, under NREGS the government has approved a grant of 20 lakh rupees, for laying loads. A committee will be constituted here to study the different areas of the panchayat and identify the places that need these roads. The panchayat will study these findings and follow up with the concerned officials and get the necessary sanctions. This shows how the committees here are very need-based. This happens spontaneously and the people from these committees based on their needs. One such project that has been addressed and resolved over years is the protected drinking water scheme.
Water Drinking Scheme
The high fluoride content in the ground water posed a severe health hazards to the people of the pandurangapuram. About 10-15 years after we started living here, we faced a water problem. The water in the bore well was not good for consumption. People started suffering from ill health, the doctors asked us to stop drinking the water here. The gram panchayat decided to construct a water tank to meet the drinking water needs of the people here. Some villagers came together and donated 5.32 acres of land towards the tank. Once again Peddayana got all the people together and discussed the issue. People came forward to donate land for constructing the tank. Others donated money that went into buying additional 3.2 acres of land. All the people came together and voluntarily excavated the land to build the water tank and also the bun all around it. It took 5 years to build the tank. All the people voluntarily excavated the land. The same thing can be replicated by people in other villages too and this can greatly help reduce the cost of such projects. Raw water was drawn from Kurnool - Kadapa cannel, or the KC- Cannel as it more commonly known as, and stored in this tank. This water was filtered through sand filters and released in to the over head storage reservoir. The people’s efforts bow fruit and finally a few years after working towards safe drinking water, the people of pandurangapuram village had safe drinking water being available directly in their homes. It was in 1998 that water was finally available in the village, the elders decided to constitute a committee to handle this project and 12 people were chosen. Today as the committee, we oversee the process of drawing water, filtering it and its distribution.
There are about 290 water connections in our village. These are divided into 4 transmission lines and 3 committee members oversee each line. We collect 50 rupees per connection as the monthly charges. We have also installed a generator so that the power failure does not affect the water supply. This is probably the only village where all the people united and invested their own money and labour in the construction of a summer storage tank. Over the years, the pollution of the raw water of the KC-cannel ment that the sand filter beds were not enough to make the water totally safe for drinking. The grama panchayat got all the people together, and the grama sabha has decided to construct a water purification and filtration plant in the village. Once again the people came together and contributed might and mobilized 8 lakh, 25 thousand rupees towards this project. It is not just people contributing money; all the people came together and also volunteered their labour, towards constructing the building. Very soon a state of the art water purifying plant was established in the village. People pay 4 rupees for a 25 litres can of drinking water. Everyone comes here to collect the water. The money collected goes into maintaining the plant and the remaining amount goes towards various development activities in the village. Today pure filtered drinking water is available to all the residents of the pandurangapuram. Things are so much better after we started getting the purified water. Even the children are so much healthier now.
Pandurangapuram is an agriculture based economy, with around 1400 acres being cultivated today, proper care has been taken to ensure that roads and field cannels in place to connect entire area under cultivation. Over the years this planning has ensured that the formers could bring in more lands under cultivation. Formers also ventured in raising commercial cash crops like chilly. Farmers from pandurangapuram have also taken lands of neighbouring villagers on lease to grow their crops. The willingness of the farmers, to adapt newer crops and technologies has resulted not only in higher yields and but also had corporate and research institutions setting the bench mark by what the farmers in the pandurangapuram have achieved.
Rice was primary crop in this village and the villagers also tried the hybrid varieties. That is the reason we consider this as a MODEL Village, we used to come to the village to study the maximum yields possible for the different varieties. It was Y Subba Reddy who first tried the hybrid variety here, after seeing the yields, people from other states came forward to use the same variety. Experiments with other crops also showed great results. This greatly helped the sale of these varieties in other states as well. Thus we could say that the initiatives of the farmers here have resulted in the county gaining between 400 to 450 crore rupees. Companies also come here for seeds production. Especially in Jowar the Maharashtra state seeds corporation, corporate like Parrys and other companies also come here for good quality seeds. There is a huge demand for seeds from this village.
People in pandurangapuram have always have reared animals for both farming and for milk. As the village is close to the town, we had too many milk vendors coming here to buy milk. To reduce the hold of these vendors on the marketing of milk, we formed a committee and started to collect a Rusumu or tax. The milk collection centre established in pandurangapuram is another example of the gram Panchayaths vision of helping people utilizing locally available resources towards enhancing their income, with the milk collection centre, ensuring that the milk is properly collected and marketed. More people will have milking animals now, initially we did not have a building of our own, with the help of villagers we could construct our own building, same villagers donated land and we built a water tank for animals in our village. Last year we spent 80,000 rupees to strengthen the tank bund. Today we have about 345 registered members. We collect about 250 litres of milk every day. We also sell some milk locally within the village and that too at less than the prevailing market rate.
Self Help Groups (SHG)
PandurangaPuram has 26 women self-help groups (SHG), with the gram panchayat providing a helping hand, the women have move livelihood opportunities available to them. Whenever we do not get the necessary funds, we approach the elders. They follow up with the officials and ensure we get the necessary funds. Whenever a need arises we borrow from and also lend money to the other groups in the village. These groups have also empowered women and given them the confidence to go out and make their own decisions. Today we know that we will get necessary funds, if we want to do things on our own. Many women have utilized these opportunities to venture out on their own to setup small business units.
I am a member of a SHG (Self Help Group), our group is one of the 26 groups in the village. There are 20 members in our group and 10 of us are involved in making and selling pickles. 10 members from other group also help with marketing. We sell our products at the DRDA exhibitions. We sell to supermarkets and also do door-to-door sales. As I co-ordinate this programme, we have brought SHG leaders on an exposure trip to this village to see how SHGs in this village are doing things. The knowledge gained from this exposure will greatly benefit the women SHG leaders. With the gram panchayat encouraging newer ventures and also the people here understanding the long term plans reap better benefits, some people in pandurangapuram have ventured in to rearing emu birds. Everyone was surprised when I told them that it was not 13,000 rupees for all the birds put together but 13000 rupees for each bird. I checked on the possible returns before I began this venture. I was told that it would need continuous investment for 3 years. I was told not to get into this sort of venture if I could not wait 3 years to start getting the returns. I am confident of getting high returns on my investment in 3 years time.
Another highlight of the pandurangapuram is the implementation of total prohibition in the village a few decades ago. Even today anyone cannot sell or buy liquor in any form in the village.
Educated citizens form the pandurangapuram who have settled in different parts of the world have come together as FISGAURG or foundation for integrated self governance and rural development, a registered non-profit organization and have established a website pandurangapuram.org with regular updates this website keeps the villagers and the people living in other cities informed about all the happenings in pandurangapuram.
In its efforts to keep the village clean the pandurangapuram gram panchayat have ensured that individual sanitary latrine have been built in every house. These efforts were recognized by the government of India and the panchayat was awarded the Nirmal Gram Puraskar in 2007. The cash component of this award has been deposited in the local post office and interest amount is being used for the development activities in the village.
Pandurangapuram is also one of the 10 villages in south India, to receive the Google Gram Panchayat Puraskar in 2010, for enhancing the quality of life for its entire people.
All the features of the pandurangapuram progress are also seen in the two other habitations under the gram panchayat, all to see, the people of pandurangapuram, have shown that the active participation of the people in the democratic processes, that aim for greater social good can transform lives. They have also shown that no matter where you have migrated from you can learn and merge with local community by your exemplary behaviour, respect for the decision of the Grama sabha, and refusal to deviate from the goals you have set for yourself. All the people in this village have together contributed to the progress of our village. Any village can achieve all this too.
If the efforts of the villagers of the pandurangapuram village have laid the path to prosperity such efforts can lead to the same results elsewhere too, because no one owns the path to progress and prosperity.