A bus stop at Jayapur village in Varanasi is a siesta junction in the afternoon and a lively chat point in the evening.
Invariably, the talk here revolves around the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections and whether all the development dreams of the hamlet have been realised. The verdict is split.
Jayapur is one of the two villages adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna in 2014. Nagepur, about two kilometres away, is the other village adopted by him in 2016. The ‘twin’ adoptions raised hopes, pushing the villages into the development spotlight. But not all hopes have come to fruition, the locals say. Here’s a look at the ground reality.
Need for college
Take the case of Jayapur. People there talk about the lack of a girls’ degree college, public transport and a government hospital. Unemployment is also an issue.
“Local girls who want to do bachelor’s or master’s in science have to go to Banaras Hindu University, which is 20 kilometres from the village. Other colleges, which run graduate and post-graduate courses in science, are in the heart of the city,” says Prem Shankar Singh, a resident of Jayapur.
Those who fail to get admission in BHU are enrolled at Ram Manohar Lohia Degree College, Bhaironath, about five kilometres from Jayapur. Locals say they informed the PM about dearth of a girls’ degree college in the village when he visited Jayapur in 2014 after adopting the village. They also submitted their demand in writing. “It has been two-and-a half years since then, but the college is a distant dream,” Singh says.
In case of illness, Jayapur locals travel to a government hospital at Jakkhini, about two kilometres from the village, often on foot as there is no proper public transport.
“A single city bus operates from the village. It leaves in the morning and returns in the evening, completing just one round,” says Rajkumar, another villager.
Before Jayapur’s adoption, it was an underdeveloped village lacking street lights and toilets. It had mud lanes. That is why the PM chose it. Thereafter, it got a bus stand, solar street lights, a post office, a library and a bank branch.
“After being adopted, the village got 650 toilets and 135 solar street lights. Two solar power stations of 25KVA each came up in the village. Fourteen new houses were provided to poor families,” says Jayapur village head Srinarayan Patel.
However, the sad part is, Patel says, batteries of half the solar lights have been stolen. “The locals should have taken care of the lights in front of their homes,” he says. Now, the street lights are connected to the solar power stations. Besides, the village now boasts of a road network. Inspired by the PM’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme launched in January 2015, locals celebrate each baby girl’s birth by planting five saplings and continue to take care of the plants. So far, 250 saplings have been planted.
Nagepur, too, lacks an intermediate college, a degree college and a government hospital.
The nearest government hospital at Rajatalab and a degree college at Bhairo Nath are 3.5 kilometres from the village. The nearest primary health centre is about three kilometres away.
Social activist Nandlal Master says, “Many of the local girls quit education after Class 10 or 12 due to the absence of a degree college here. Locals expected one here after the village was adopted by the PM. The Centre should speak to the state government to ensure a degree college here.”
Master says only 10% of the population attended schools up to Class 10 and around 1% obtained bachelor’s degrees. “Only five people are government employees. The lack of means of education is a serious problem. It needs to be addressed on priority.”
“We were hopeful of concrete measures for the benefit of weavers. Around 90% of the population knows weaving. But a majority of them quit weaving because of poor wages. Many migrated to other cities in search of jobs, others became daily wagers,” he adds.
Master and many locals have written to PM Modi, demanding means of employment in the area and concrete steps to revive weaving.
Ramsahare, a weaver, says, “An adopted child is showered with love and affection by parents. Nagepur was adopted by the PM around a year ago. But it didn’t get the kind of affection (development) it expected.”
Village head Parasnath Rajbhar says 130 toilets have been constructed and another 100 will be built soon. A model anganwadi centre has been constructed here and a bus stop has also come up.
But Rajbhar claims Nagepur failed to get as much development as Jayapur.
Development under CSR
Shiv Sharan Pathak, a senior official at PM Modi’s local public relation offices in Ravindrapuri, says, “After Modi adopted the villages, series of development works were carried out by companies with their CSR funds. Solar lights were installed and roads and toilets were constructed.” A few NGOs also helped them. But no MP local area development (MPLAD) funds were used.
But the PM used his MPLAD funds to construct around 110 roads, 500 solar lights and 300 hand pumps in other urban and rural parts of his parliamentary constituency. An MP gets ₹5 crore each year under the MPLAD scheme. In the last three years, whatever MPLAD funds the PM received, all have been utilised in development works.