A good number of women sarpanch leaders showed up at a function held here on Wednesday to felicitate villages that opted for the samras scheme in the panchayat elections held last month.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi doled out grants worth Rs 10.86 crore to 422 panchayat members. But these are only numbers. Scratch the surface and many of them knew little about their job.
Take the case of 24-year-old Shabana Khosbaria,a sarpanch from Godi village in Bharuch. Appointed on the eve of the convention,details of water or road infrastructure of her village or even the population are sketchy in her mind. She is quick to consult Chandrakant Azad,her Taluka panchayat member or her husband Sajid Patel accompanying her.
I still dont know what my duties are as I become sarpanch a few days ago, said 24-year-old Sudhaben Arvindbhai Thakur from Visnagar in Mehsana district.
The sarpanch of Sarmat village in Jamnagar district,Nanduba Mehruba Jadeja,has taken over charge a few days ago from her husband Mehruba Jadeja,who was sarpanch for 10 years. She is illiterate and has probably got out of the village for the first time. There are 180 BPL families in the village,many from the fishermen community have boats worth Rs 1 lakh yet they are covered under the BPL scheme. Even farmers with 50 bighas are covered under the scheme, he claimed.
Under the Samras Gram Yojana,implemented in October 2001,villages below a population of 5,000 get an incentives of Rs 2 lakh and those with more than 5,000 get Rs 5 lakh once they earn the rare distinction of becoming samras.
The government claims there are 357 women in samras panchayats while there are 10,585 samras gram panchayats across Gujarat.
Extolling the newly launched taluka level administration scheme of ATVT (Aapno taluko,vibrant taluko) that decentralises power and transparency at the gram panchayat level,Modi said,When I took up the office as the CM in 2001,there were only four samras villages,but today,the number has increased to 5,000. The government has even allocated between Rs 800 to Rs 1000 crore under the ATVT scheme for carrying out small and non-budgetary works in villages. Each sarpanch should vie to make her village a samras and have a healthy competition for development between them instead of conflicts.
Bhimsinh Pratapsingh Vaghela,panchayat member from Sarmat,is however far from enthused by the award his village has bagged. Nothing has changed in our village in the last 50 years. The 1,800 families there still drink saline water. Mangrove plantation can arrest this but the initiative taken up by the Gujarat Ecology Commission and State Forest Department has added our village only recently, he said.
The convention saw Revenue minister Anandiben Patel,Education minister Ramanlal Vora,Panchayat and Rural Development minister Narottam Patel and a host of other political dignitaries in attendance apart from thousands of sarpanch elects and gram panchyats members from villages across the state.