As Nandigram is located in the rural area of Valsad district populated mostly by under-privileged tribals, the importance of pursuing various projects for rural development cannot be overemphasized. lnspite of many government programs for village growth, due to lack of adequate information or inability to cope with the complexities of the Government schemes and Government office working, it is difficult for the villagers to take measurable advantage of them. Nandigram tries to help them by carrying out certain developmental programs on its own.
Conversion of Veris into small wells.
Veri is a traditional tribal word suggesting a natural source of water available in hilly regions or on flat land at the base of hills in the remote areas. These veris are only about 5 to 7 feet deep and can store limited amount of water. Usually they get dried up after Holi (i.e. March). People who live nearby these Veris use this water for drinking. Some Veris are at almost ground level. As they don’t have any coverings from the sides, animals also come here to drink water. Moreover, mud and other material from sides get mixed up with water. This makes the water highly contaminated. Drinking of such impure water gives rise to water borne diseases.
This situation could be improved if the existing Veris can be converted into small wells, by digging the mud and blasting hard rock to enlarge the water storing area. Side construction using bricks and cement can be done from bottom to 2 feet up to ground level. Then the Veris become deeper and contain more water, and people get drinking water all the year. Community’s participation is in the form of labour. The cost of the material and construction is borne by our Trust. This conversion of Veri into well is specially needed in villages of Kaparada Taluka of Valsad Dist. as they are very much short of drinking water. Nandigram has done pioneering work in this direction and has converted large number of Veris into small wells. After Nandigram’s initiative, the government has also noticed the importance of this work and has included it in its projects.
- Providing for irrigation throughout the year by constructing kachcha dams.
- Providing pipes to farmers for taking water from the source to the fields, at subsidized rate.
- Laying underground pipelines for irrigation where beneficiaries participate by way of labour.
- Repairing out-of-order hand pumps
- Bunding of farmland to prevent soil erosion during heavy rains.
- Installation of water tanks for extended use of available water.
- Leveling of land to increase cultivable area.
- Setting up/installing toilet facilities for cleanliness, sanitation and environment.
- Free distribution of seeds and subsidized saplings of fruit bearing trees to farmers.
All these activities are carried out with active participation of the beneficiaries in the form of labour/locally available inputs.
In the year 2009, we embarked upon a huge program of providing toilet facility to all the 170 households of a village called Ghanveri in Kaparada Taluka of Valsad district. Till now, this village did not have a single toilet. There are many such villages where people are not accustomed to use such facilities. They go to open spaces for relieving themselves. This is very embarrassing to women-folk and also difficult for the elderly and ill people, specially during night and heavy rainfall. The difficulty is all the more acute for people suffering from diarrhoea. Even then we had to hold many rounds of discussions with the villagers to convince them that toilet facility is the only solution to all these problems. In the whole of Kaparada Taluka consisting of 129 villages, this is the only village where every family has a toilet of its own. This has greatly improved the condition of hygiene and sanitation. The cost of one toilet is around · Rs. 10,000; out of which, Nandigram spends Rs. 6,000. The rest is in the form of labour and other inputs by the beneficiary. The cost may vary according to the market prices.
Ghanveri is one of the nine villages under a group gram panchayat. The other eight villages are also without toilet facility and the number of households in these eight villages is 833. There are 129 villages in Kaparada Taluka. There is therefore pending work of gigantic proportion. Ghanveri is only a tiny step in this direction and there are miles to go before we can provide this small primary facility to other villages of tribal region. And this is only one of the several problems faced by these downtrodden people, as a number of projects await in various areas to effect overall upliftment of this region.