Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Gujarat's rural model? Water logged village, dilapidated school building, inedible grain for midday meal

By Our Representative
In a glaring instance of negligence of Gujarat’s rural areas, a local social worker from Surendranagar district of Gujarat has sought top state officials’ intervention regarding the entire approach road to village Dholi of Limdi taluka having been water-logged due to monsoon rains, with no way to drain it out for days together. In a letter he wrote to Limdi taluka mamlatdar, the revenue official responsible for the state of affairs, Natubhai Lakhabhai Parmar, also points towards how the school building of the village is unfit to study and the midday meal offered to children is of hopeless quality.
Written amidst efforts by a senior economist Ashok Gulati seeking to project rural Gujarat as a model for other Indian states to follow for agricultural growth, the social worker suggests there is nothing in the village which suggests how this growth in agriculture has in any way helped the villagers to improve their conditions, as claimed by many. Attached with Ahmedabad-based NGO Navsarjan Trust, the social worker has said, “The water is at least knee deep. People cannot more in or out even during emergency.”
Parmar, who has sent a copy of the letter to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel and the district collector, apart from senior officials concerned in Gandhinagar, Gujarat capital, has particularly pointed towards the state of affairs of the Dalit locality of the village, saying, “It has particularly become a victim, as the approach road, built with concrete, has caved in.” He adds, “The Dalit locality is situated in the corner, and is low lying, hence it is the worse sufferer because of the failure to drain out the water by the village panchayat.”
The village school
Parmar, who observed this during his field visit of the Bhal region, his main area of social work, said, “There is a real danger of outbreak of water borne diseases. In fact, you can already see mosquitoes breeding out there. Despite representation by the locals, nothing is being done to drain out the water which has gathered here. One is left wondering if the government is waiting for a dangerous outbreak of disease for this happen.” The village is part of Bhal, which is known to produce one of the finest varieties of organic wheat cultivated in a semi-arid region.
During the field trip, Parmar found that the school of the village is also in poor state. He said in the letter, in sharp contrast to the vast claims of the Gujarat government regarding massive improvement in educational infrastructure in the state’s rural areas, the school building is in a dilapidated state, and nothing is being done to reconstruct the building. Attaching photographs, the letter wants officials to urgently look into the plight of the village.  
Chickpea meant for midday meal in school
“This is the school which gave Gujarat three MLAs – Ranchchodbhai Mer, Laljibhai Mer and Vaghjibhai Chauhan”, Parmar said in his letter, adding, “It has been instrumental in producing engineers, doctors, teachers, government officials and army jawans. The compound wall may fall any any and a major accident may happen. There are only two options: Either the school, which as of today has 361 children up to class VIII, should be closed and converted into a memorial, or a new building should be constructed immediately.”
The type of midday meal offered to the school children is the third major concern observed by the social worker. He said in his letter, “The foodgrain cooked for the children are not fit for human beings. On opening one of the sacks containing chana (chickpeas), we witnessed that the grain is full of insects and uneatable. The government must intervene, withdraw this type of food, and take action against those responsible.”

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