Life's good for Badekottu Koraga colony now

A peek into the Badekottu Koraga colony near Ujire in Dakshina Kannada district and one finds neatly maintained colony dotted with concrete lanes leading to tiled homes.

A far cry from the thatched huts, pathetic roads and unkempt surroundings, and the credit for the transition goes to the Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat.

In the last 60 years, not much was done to improve the plight of Koraga community members, who come under the Scheduled Tribes. All that the colony could boast of was the thatched houses that were converted into cement sheds by the Nirmiti Kendra a few years back. And even leaked during monsoons.

Apart from discussions at the Zilla and Taluk panchayat meetings, nothing was done to improve their conditions. It was then that Dakshina Kannada ZP CEO P Shivashankar decided to give serious thought. This changed the lives of the nine families residing there.

Shivashankar’s endeavour resulted in the construction of two-room houses with power and water supply, toilets and drainage facility, concrete paths and compound. Cleanliness and hygiene became the order of the day.

The colony today stands as a testimony to the efforts made towards bringing the members to the mainstream.

Panchayat funds

Sharing his views with Deccan Herald, Shivashankar said: “We did not receive any grants for the purpose. Funds were garnered from the zilla, taluk and gram panchyats. I had initiated a similar project during my tenure as CEO of Mysore ZP, but could not complete it owing to my transfer. I am glad that my dream materialised in Ujire,” he said.

The colony was developed on a pilot basis and Shivashankar has plans to identify a colony in every taluk and develop them. The zilla panchayat has not limited its exercise only to cosmetic makeovers, it has also taken measures to engage them in suitable occupations.

Under the MGNREGS, jasmine saplings were distributed to every house to generate income and most of the women are into basket-making.

Shivashankar said: “We are trying to strike a deal with mall owners to offer space to sell cane products and have received a positive response. A workshed is also under construction to provide better working environment.”

The eldest member of the colony, Manku, 103, beams over the way things have changed for them.

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