Resort facilities

MP’s all-female panchayat prioritizes better school and anganwadi facilities

“Children are often deprived of education because there are no public schools in this village. To go to school, they have to walk almost 5 km to Pandariya village,” laments Bhairon Singh Jatav, a farmer who owns a 1.25 acre farm.

Jatav is not the only one who is upset about the lack of a public school in Adampur Chhawani, Phanda Janpad of Bhopal district.

Ballobai, a laborer, says: “Our village suffers from a lack of good roads, electricity and drainage facilities. But these problems are small compared to the lack of educational facilities here which affects the future of our children.

“There is no anganwadi school or center here. Ten years ago, an anganwadi was set up in rented accommodation. The structure is now in ruins. For five years, it has been used as a shelter for animals,” Ballobai laments. She thinks it is wiser to elect women to the gram panchayat as they “might take access to educational institutions more seriously than previous male representatives”.

The sarpanch as well as 20 panchayat members of this all-female panchayat were elected unopposed this year. The members of the panchayat elected by this village of 3,842 inhabitants are a heterogeneous batch made up of graduates, those who are running for office for the first time, but also those who have studied only until the fifth grade.

Interestingly, although the sarpanch seat was reserved for a backward caste (OBC) candidate with no specific gender priority, 22-year-old housewife Krishna Rawat was elected sarpanch. The previous panchayat however was headed by a woman, Shakun Neemnarayan, the rest of the members were men.

One resident, Misribai, told IANS: “Besides education, roads and drainage, the rubbish dump in Adampur is a big problem. The stench and leachate from this dump also contaminated the waters of Adampur and Haripur villages. We sincerely hope that our women-only panchayat will address this issue.

Earlier this month, IANS covered the landfill disaster that affected nearly 200 families in Adampur Chhawani Gram Panchayat, which appears to be the main issue in this election.

Roadmap for developments

Sarpanch Krishna Rawat, a postgraduate student who was elected unopposed, told IANS that a roadmap for the development of Adampur Chhawani was underway.

“We decided to renovate the building in which the anganwadi operated in the past and restore it to working order. A year and a half ago, when I moved to this village, I saw children attending schools in neighboring villages. This made me prioritize the establishment of a government primary or secondary school here.

Explaining the seriousness of the dumpsite problem, she added, “There was a lot of opposition from the villagers when the dumpsite was moved here by the municipality. It has now turned out to be a major problem for the village. The only solution to landfill is to ensure that it is maintained diligently. We will start by filing a complaint. If this does not produce any results, we will resort to protests.

Rawat believes leachate from the landfill is affecting the water resources of nearby villages and National Green Tribunal (NGT) orders are not being followed.

Based on the announcement of the prize money to an unopposed all-female panchayat, newly elected Rashmi awaits the disbursement of the amount for the school construction plan. CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan had declared a cash incentive of 15 lakh for a collectively agreed all-female panchayat.

“In addition, she specifies, no road has been built in our village since 2019. There are not enough drains, the few that exist are in poor condition. We have started the drain construction works while preparing to handle the other works in due time. »

Echoing Rashmi’s development views, her colleague Seema says they intend to send anganwadi and school construction plans to the Zilla Panchayat soon. “If necessary, we will talk about it with the local MP and the chief minister as well.”

Explaining the closure of the local anganwadi, former sarpanch Neemnarayan says, “The anganwadi operated from rented premises in the past. But due to the dilapidated state of the building, it had to be closed for security reasons. We were planning to renovate the building when the panchayat elections were held. Therefore, nothing could be done.

How an all-female panchayat came into being

Narrating the process, Bilkhariya Mandal Prashant Thakur, ex-deputy sarpanch, told IANS: “Initially, villagers came up with my name as sarpanch but after CM’s announcement, I thought of an all-female panchayat. We agreed that the name of Krishna, the wife of my younger brother, should be proposed instead. Moreover, the village elders and former members of the panchayat agreed.

Commenting on his family nominating his daughter-in-law Krishna for the post of village sarpanch, his mother-in-law Kusumbai said, “When my son first recommended my daughter-in-law for this post, I was hesitant, how she would reconcile our house with administrative responsibilities. But today, I am proud of her for having taken the reins of the village.