Home maker turned GP chief transforms Markanja

Home maker turned GP chief transforms Markanja

Home maker turned GP chief transforms Markanja

A neo literate Girija had never imagined that one day she would be looking after the affairs of a gram panchayat and the welfare of village community. Apart from tackling the issues at the village level, she also raises the issues with the higher authorities.

The reservation for women in panchayat helped Girija, who hails from Scheduled Caste, to get elected as the people’s representative of Markanja gram panchayat. Even though she is a neoliterate, she has gathered enough knowledge about the panchayat’s activities with the help of her colleagues and also through various organisations which she is the member.

In fact, Markanja gram panchayat in Sullia taluk was in wrong news following the illegality and misappropriation of funds, when Girija’s predecessor Harinakshi took charge as the president during 2010-11. It was Harinakshi who initiated development programmes in the GP in association with ‘Brashtachara Virodhi Janajagruthi Samithi,’ by availing funds under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). The development work initiated by Harinakshi is being taken forward by Girija.

Under the guidance of the GP president, the GP has prepared an action plan of Rs 35.68 lakh under MGNREGA during 2013-14. In fact, there was zero achievement under the scheme during 2008-09, which has grown steadily over the years.
Last year, work worth Rs 8.88 lakh was implemented and 100 days employment was guaranteed to nine persons and employment was provided to 220 households.
Along with the members of Brashtachara Virodhi Janajagruthi Samithi, she has a desire for a village full of greenery. Accordingly, during 2013-14, the GP has plans to plant 100 fruit bearing saplings in the gram panchayat premises.

About 600 fruit bearing saplings will be planted by the side of roads. The saplings will also be planted in the land available in three government primary school and one high school and in agnawadi centres. The process of planting saplings have already begun on World Environment Day.

The gram panchayat wants to ensure that all the 1,004 families in its jurisdiction have toilet facilities. There are atleast 68 families which do not have toilet facilities and will ensure that the families get toilets using the funds available under MGNREGA. An awareness will also be created among the villagers on the need for using toilets.
“I may be a neoliterate, but as I have information on various schemes of the government, which I disseminate among village community,” says Girija.

Moreover, recognising the value of a good education, she personally monitors the schools in her gram panchayat, and ensures that even her children attend school regularly.

She is focusing on implementing women empowerment programmes. Though there are no special funds earmarked for the purpose, she has devised her own way of doing things through Grama Vikasa Kendra. 

“Through Grama Vikasa Kendra, a few neoliterates were imparted skill development trainings and we prepare phenyl, liquid soap and earn our livelihoods by selling it. I have learnt stitching and now able to stitch a small carry bag. The gram panchayat helped us to sell our products during gram sabha, by opening a stall in the GP premises. There is a demand for phenyl in the shops as well,” said Girija.

The gram panchayat has also plans to take up the work on removing silt from water tanks, levelling the school ground, levelling anganwadi land, constructing a vented dam across Minunguru stream to increase the water level in the vicinity, levelling the land belonging to temples using the available funds under MGNREGA and thereby provide employment to the job card holders. The work on atleast six wells have already been completed in the month of April-May, said in-charge PDO Vidyadhar and added that the gram panchayat has also taken a decision to provide 35 water metres to SC families free of cost. “Using the funds under MGNREGA, about 20 wells were dug last year and about 28 wells will be dug during the year, to solve drinking water crisis. With the digging of wells, many families have started growing vegetables in their piece of land. Even I have planted saplings (paushtika thota) in my land under the scheme,” said Girija.

“As the work on storm water drains in all the roads were taken up last year with the available funds from MGNREGA, roads in Markanja are in good condition. After we took up our fight against corruption in 2010-11, the GP has become people-friendly and responds to the needs of the people. There is transparency in administration. We need not bribe to get our things done through the GP,” said Samithi conveners Shankaranarayana Shastri and Veerappa Gowda.

“We want to make Markanja a model village on the dreams of Swarajya of Mahatma Gandhi. Though there is liquor menace, we will create awareness on the same,” said Girija, Shastri and Gowda unanimously.