Back to basics: Mahatma Gandhi once said India lives in its villages. Sixty-seven years after Independence, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, it was a step in empowering villages by integrating the efforts of political leaders and the people. Hindustan Times caught up with MPs of the region to find out their plans for their adopted villages. We feature Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab today.
Drug-free village is Gandhi’s aim
Dr Dharamvira Gandhi 63
Village adopted: Marori on the Punjab-Haryana border. It is 11 km from Samana and 40 km from Patiala.
Why: One of the most underdeveloped villages in Patiala, Marori is infamous for brewing and selling illicit liquor besides drug abuse. The village has no access to safe drinking water neither does it have proper drainage. It has one government middle school and kutcha roads. “I have chosen the village to make it drug-free. I will start by running a de-addiction and rehabilitation campaign,” says Gandhi. Besides improving basic amenities, generating jobs and uplifting the lot of the villagers would be carried out, he adds.
Wishlist: Panchayat samiti member Bagel Singh says: “Lack of jobs and opportunities have driven many to take to brewing illicit liquor. With the MP adopting our village, we can look forward to a better future.”
End to perennial floods
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura 76
Constituency: Khadoor Sahib
Village adopted: Munda Pind, 30 km from Tarn Taran
Why: Brahmpura says he chose Munda Pind as every year due to floods farmers suffer as their crop gets destroyed, particularly in the low-lying Mand area along the Beas. “I intend to solve this problem once and for all,” he says.
Wishlist: Zila parishad member Jatinder Singh says the construction of a permanent Dhussi bandh along the Beas to save crops in 3,000 acres is top priority. The construction of a bridge over the Beas to link the village and its adjoining areas with Sultanpur Lodhi is a major demand of the villagers. “This will shorten the distance to Sultanpur Lodhi by 25 km from the existing route which is via Goindwal Sahib,” he says. A major problem, wildlife officials point out, is that farmers of the village poison migratory birds that feed on their crop. Villagers are hoping for a solution.
Most backward village his choice
Vijay Sampla 53
Village adopted: Budhawar, 20 km from Mukerian town.
Population: 5,000 (estimated)
Why: Budhawar is one of the most backward villages in Hoshiarpur district. About 80% of the population belongs to Scheduled Castes and backward classes. Land holdings are small. Most of the residents are daily wagers. Doctors and teachers avoid serving in this area due to its backwardness. “My priority will be to generate employment opportunities to raise the economic standard of the residents. I will work for improving the infrastructure, particularly water supply,” says Sampla, who took charge as union minister recently.
Wishlist: Sarpanch Kuldip Singh says policies should be introduced to make people self-reliant. “We need better transportation facilities and road connectivity. A big community hall is another demand of the villagers.”
‘Exercise a sham, but I will work’
Harinder Singh Khalsa 67
Constituency: Fatehgarh Sahib
Village adopted: Chunni Kalan, 20 km from Fatehgarh Sahib.
Why: Khalsa, who is away to Canada, terms the entire exercise of adopting a village a sham. “This is just a sham in the name of the development of villages as it is a discriminatory approach. The name of the village was finalised in my absence when I was on an overseas tour. Despite my aides telling the deputy commissioner to wait for me to return, we were not given time. Anyway, I will try to work on the areas that have been neglected in the village,” he told HT over phone.
Wishlist: Sarpanch Balbir Singh says the village lacks a sewerage system and there is a need to upgrade the potable water supply as the existing facility is inadequate. “The government school should also be upgraded to the senior secondary level,” the sarpanch adds.