From GP to ZP, she scripts success stories

Zilla Panchayat President Shailaja Bhat receiving Nairmalya Rathna award from Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa recently in Bangalore.

As a result, many women who have entered Gram Panchayat have succesfully discharged their duties as Gram Panchayat members and have stepped the ladder of success and have reached Zilla Panchayat by scripting a success story at the gram panchayat level.

K T Shailaja Bhat, the present Dakshina Kannada Zilla Panchayat President is one such woman who rose to success from Gram Panchayat by writing a success story at Idkidu Gram Panchayat in a quiet and unobtrusive manner as its President from 2003 to 2005.
Idkidu and Kula villages which come under Idkidu Gram Panchayat of Bantwal Taluk has seen several developmental activities like rainwater harvesting, anti-rabies vaccination during her tenure.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Shailaja Bhat said in Idkidu, rainwater harvesting is not an activity, it is a mindset. It has permeated into the consciousness of the old and young alike. “Idkidu had severe shortage of water in the past. Realising it, the Gram Panchayat, Amrutha Sinchana Co-operative Society, Shree Padre and other organisations tried creating awareness on the dwindling of water source and implement rainwater harvesting methods to ensure that dug-wells do not go dry. As a result, about 65 per cent of the households in the Gram Panchayat limits have gone for rainwater harvesting and the ground water level has increased significantly.”

In fact, Shailaja’s house itself is a model for implementing rainwater harvesting wherein the system allows the family to use rainwater for half the year and lets the excess water to recharge the open well for usage in the remaining months.

She says “even now I try to create an awareness on rainwater harvesting wherever I go, as it is the need of the hour.”  She said that with the help of the Gram Panchayat and other organisations, Sri Shanmukha Subramanya temple has also implemented rainwater harvesting. “During my tenure in Gram Panchayat, we had planted medicinal plants in and around the temple,” she says proudly.  All the borewells in the Idkidu Gram Panchayat limits are recharged through rainwater harvesting.

Percolating ponds

“when I was the President of the Gram Panchayat, we had dug percolating ponds in the backyard of gram panchayat and teakwood saplings were planted near the percolating ponds.”

“In fact, I want to implement rainwater harvesting system effectively across the district, so that ground water-level is recharged,” she said.

The Gram Panchayat is following 12 simple principles of ‘grama swarajya.’ The Gram Panchayat has a population of aound 7,218 with 1,700 households.   

Anti-rabies vaccination

With the help of donors and various organisations, free anti-rabies vaccination was carried out in the Idkidu GP limits. “However, during my period, it was taken over by the Gram Panchayat and the drive is being carried out effectively with the help of Gram Panchayat and other organisations in the village every year at a time at various places in its jurisdiction. Now as a Zilla Panchayat President, she is planning to extend such an initiative in all the 203 gram panchayats in the district.

Awareness on plastic

She says that awareness was created on the ill effects of use of plastics in Soorya High
School. As a result, the use of plastic has come down drastically in the school.

Nairmalya Rathna

After Shailaja assumed the charge as the President of Zilla Panchayat, Dakshina Kannada district was adjudged for the state government’s prestigious “clean district” title (Nairmalya Rathna) in March, 2011 for the effective implementation of total sanitation drive. In fact, all the blocks in Dakshina Kannada have received Central government’s “Nairmalya Puraskar.” However, she says “it is not the end, we have a long way to go and sustain the total sanitation movement. We have to achieve cent per cent in total sanitation.”

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