Last Sunday we went for a study tour of Hivre Bazar. It was a good time, had lot of fun with antakshari in the bus. Made many friends. Fought and laughed very well. It was fun!
Mohan Chttar, a progressive farmer gave a lecture there. I have recorded it and will upload it soon. Its in Marathi. I thought that I will translate it in English.
Mohan Chattar : Mataha te Paytha ( From the hill top to the base)
I will tell some important things. You work, we work too. Our work is towards conservation from the hill top to down the hill base. Water on the tops is to be retained there, water in the stream to be retained there and the rest of water on soil to be retained there. This is how we can describe our work. Restore and conserve the water we get.
To achieve this we use techniques of watershed management. They include Contour Trenches, Pazar talav, Bandhare, Jaivik Bandhare, Rain water harvesting, Compartment Bunding and many more. The work was done in a particular sequence. It suited the geological conditions of our village, it may not apply everywhere but the way of doing will.
The trees you see on this village are planted and protected by the villagers. Don't believe only because I say that grazing is prohibited here, see around and tell me if there is any animal is left free to graze. Peoples participation is most important thing to remember.
If you dig some trenches, plant some trees, development won't follow. Money and power don't aid much towards development, if they did then all the villages in Maharashtra would be ideal villages and we wouldn't have won anything. Now the situation is so rosy for us that any new scheme implemented in Maharashtra is expected to be implemented in our village.
All our work followed a need based implementation. For the need, for fulfilling the need. If you take a small step for fulfilling a need it is appreciated and any grand step which is futile is ridiculed and neglected. Its worthless to work withought any need, at least in a village like ours. To cite an example if we build highways in villages where there is acute water scarcity then people will laugh and fell sad. Its meaningless.
All the work done here is approved by the Gramsabha. All the decisions are taken by the Gramsabha. We respect everybody's word and opinion here. There is no difference done on the basis of money, status and caste. Today what happens is we don't honor the opinion of a poor guy, even if it is valid. So what happens is he immediately thinks that if I am so worthless why on earth should I corporate? He doesn't stop even there, he tries to convince few more people too. In the end we all fail in a noble cause.
There is something wrong from the Galli to the Government in Delhi. There is a certain confusion here. There are certainly some issues, which we need to grapple down. But we believed in people.When the decisions taken are transparent and all the people of village agree, no one can dare to oppose you. Not even God, forget the government. It becomes imperative for them to help. But if you have hidden motives then immediately people will gauge them and no one, no one will help you out. We may be simple but we are not stupid.
Policy makers must think of the grassroots. Today the Gramasabha structure is itself going to doom. If we have to search the Panch for endorsing a decisions, we can predict that the village is going to gloom soon. We don't trust others, don't believe others. We hate the poor, our own poor. The poor surely thinks if I am not even valued as a person, why the hell should I think of Global Warming? He says give me my bread, if cutting a tree gives it, so be it! If I am going to die with Tatas and Ambanis of Global Warming, why not eat something and die?
People are good, they change. We should give all good opportunity and the time to change. Our social, political and environmental leadership should be people centric. If a team of 50 is of 50 people next year, no one can do anything wrong to you, but moment you become a 49 people team you head towards disasters.
Development is a continuous slow process. Its not a target oriented thing. If we start banning something in a hurry, people who ban will be banned in village. Work can take some time to complete, but it should be done to full. It should be concrete. To cite an example, all the villages around had been "Open Toilets Free". Newspapers would flash the news, "Ideal Village Hivre Bazar is not Open Defecation Free. Why?" People started talking and the only solution was to construct toilets. So we did it. We achieved it as lately as 2007. But I am sure we will be Open Toilets Free, even when this movement fails, if at all, all over the India.
Crores of rupees have been spent on Water Conservation already. No where Development has been done only by money and muscle power. More than money its how much people are educated and aware is what matters. We have taken some harsh steps for the better future. In 1997 we sat together and decided not to dig a bore well for personal use. Immediately there were questions why on earth have we conserved so much of water? What we did was, we went and saw villages in good shape being bought down to poverty only because of bad management of water. Seeing it we became firm in our resolve. Now we fell happy when the neighboring villages are supplied water in Tankers and we have water for 12 months, 24 hours. We have managed our crops too. We don't grow water thirsty crops like Sugarcane and Banana. They are good crops but don't suit our conditions. We grow vegetables, which take less time, less money and less water. So we can many crops throught the year.
No outsider can purchase land in our village. We felt great when our efforts were endorsed by Raj Thackery in his movement. I am not an activist but fell that the jest of his thoughts is gain for the sons of the soil. To use IT terms "We have to ensure that the development of my village is not hindered by an external VIRUS". Any outsider will buy land here only for his benifits. He has no gains by participating in the development process here. He will buy fertile land and grow Sugarcane and Bananas only. We had to find this solution after our villages struggle against Damania Hatceries. The people from neighboring villages who had share in common land of our village sold it to Damania Hatceries, the close ones of Thackery family. The slaughter house was sending dirty and polluted water to our fields. We had to fight and break the pipeline carrying these wastes. Then we had to take the harsh decision of not selling our land to any outsider.
We have survived our journey solely because of the trust we have. Last 20 years Popatrao Pawar is being elected unopposed as the Sarpanch. We have believed him, and he has respected our trust. We studied the administration, schemes. We have worked with the spirit that this is my work. No need to tell the state of "Government Works". A very good example is the state of our common toilets.
Today because of our success everyone, every department of the Government wants to be part of our work. You find lot on people on a pakka road. In 1989 when Pawar Saheb was elected unopposed as the Sarpanch, the first task we tried doing was repairing the hand pumps for women of village. They were three in number. When we went to Panchayat Samiti to do the repairs they mocked us. Now when we have fame and these people are on the verge of retirement they take great pride in saying that, "We have groomed the work of Popatrao Pawar". But that's Ok. People will stone the tree which gives fruits. Barren tress are not stoned usually. Successful people have many classmates. We mocked at Anna Hazare, now he has a dominance. We have to believe and use innovation in everything we do, or else we can't survive today.
We can walk only with a positive outlook. Example of Eknath Maharaj should suffice to motivate us. We may not be so patient as him but we can be at least 10% ? We have seen this village of drunkards and black listed village walk the path towards development and prosperity. We have the guts to give as many chances and bring about a transformation. A person transferred is a person won, he will die for his love for work.
If we use muscle power and anger for everything people may get feared but we lose respect. Even a drunkard had a opinion which may be sometimes right, we must respect him. Otherwise he will make sure to be a destructive force and unite some more merely to oppose who insulted him. With the right leadership and sacrifice and passion of people we are taking the "Express Highway of success".
After so much of work and struggle we have reached somewhere. After Darubandi (Ban on drinking liquor), Nasbandi(Population control), Charaibandi (ban on grazing), Kuradhbandi(No cutting trees) we are a rich people. Popatrao Pawar is a State Level minister. Fells good.
Do good work anywhere. Believe in people. Vishwashrao wasn't killed in Panipat battle. We should keep him alive. All should do their work well.
There is no dearth of funds for good work. Funds are send back due to fights in villages. IAS officers struggle to match the aid they get. This is sad to see. We must change and co-operate.
Change happens when we chance. If we light a lamp and pass on there will be no dark.