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Village Action News

Monthly news about the efforts of AVAG to bridge the gap between
Auroville and the villages around it.


December 2002

No. 2

 

AVAG meets with the Panchayat Presidents
The newly elected village leaders come forward to cooperate

 

AVAG's Anbu, Karin and Moris talking to the village leaders

For the first time after the elections this year, the President, Vice President and Councillors from 22 Panchayats around Auroville met together with Village Action Group at the AVARC office on the 13th of Nov. 2002. About 60% of the invitees attended the meeting, including the MLA of the area. Altogether there were 22 leaders present, along with Karin, Bindu, Harini, Moris, Anbu and 15 Development Workers.


Purpose of the meeting

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 Auroville Village Action Group. It was also an opportunity to discuss the possibilities for village development through common projects and the necessity of forming a Village Council in every village.


Proceedings

After the guests had introduced themselves and everyone got acquainted, AVAG presented its main areas of work: the educational activities in village schools, the community development programme including men's and women's clubs and microprojects, the particular activities with women and young people, such as savings and loan schemes, income generation projects, legal counselling and leadership trainings. AVAG also brought into light its joint efforts with other organisations such as JIPMER hospital, PIMS (Pondicherry Institute of Medical Science), Field Publicity Office, DRDA (District Rural Development Agency), Vallalar Grameen Bank, Auroville Health Centre, Palmyra and Pitchandikulam.

Villages leaders showing interest in AVAG's work


Some ideas of working together were put forth

The importance of forming a Village Council, where the traditional as well as the elected leaders could meet and plan, together with representatives of the women's and men's clubs, was stressed. One of AVAG's experienced coordinators explained that to be able to work effectively with the government and other development agencies, such a firm base that involves all the people of the village, is an absolute necessity.
Some of the possibilities, like improving availability of drinking water with the help of DANIDA, taking the initiative of waste management and then connecting with EXNORA and starting self-help groups for income generation under the government programmes, were explained.

The Namaka 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 wells, was discussed. Presently this fund is under-utilised in this area due to lack of collaboration between the people and the leaders.

Reaction of the leaders

A village  leader shares his experience with AVAG

The assembled leaders were very happy to learn about these opportunities, expressing eagerness to take them up for the benefit of their villages.

Leaders who had worked with AVAG before spoke enthusiastically about their projects. They expressed their eagerness to meet more often and regularly focus on village development.

Some leaders voiced the problems they face while working with the government. The funds they are allotted never come to them on time. Whenever they require funds for small village improvements (e.g. hand pump) there is no money in the government treasury. Then suddenly the government releases a big amount of funds for erecting a public toilet. And the toilet project gets precedence while the villagers keep struggling for drinking water. They have tried to explain this to government officers but nobody seems to be taking heed. The leaders strongly feel that if we invite these officers to our meetings, the situation might improve.

Another difficult task related 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 the government programmes. For some reason the previous leaders had not been able to present a genuine list. 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.

AVAG development workers


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 strengthen their cooperation with AVAG in the development of the villages.


Decisions taken at the meeting

  • To make a joint effort to solve the problem of constant electricity failure in the region
  • To make necessary arrangements for the maintenance of public toilets in each panchayat
  • To organise more service camps and awareness programs in the villages
  • To organise an exposure visit to Koothampakkam, a model village
    panchayat in Thiruvallur district
  • To invite a Resource Person from the Govt. Departments like DRDA, Women Development
  • Corporation, DANIDA, HUDCO and Social Welfare Board for our meetings in the future

Contact: avagofficeauroville.org.in

http://www.auroville.org/index/avag.htm

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