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.
Model of SAD stronghold
Sadhu Singh 72
Constituency: Faridkot (reserved)
Village adopted: Fatehgarh Karotana, 8 km from Moga on the highway to Jalandhar.
Why: The village falls in Moga’s Dharamkot assembly segment, represented by agriculture minister and senior Akali leader Tota Singh. Sadhu Singh is looking forward to lead the change in the village. “There will be allround development. Facilities such as drinking water, sewerage system, solar lamps, gym, public parks and metalled roads will be provided,” he promises.
For the record: A huge Kisan Sabha was held at Fatehgarh Karotana in 1942 to launch an agitation for the farming community that was against the British.
Wishlist: Amandeep Singh, 26, a postgraduate in public administration, is the village sarpanch. Top on his wishlist is a sewerage treatment plant for the village. A building for the veterinary hospital was built years ago but it is lying defunct for want of staff so he wants it functional. Raghbir Singh Brar
MP turns crime-buster
Chaudhary Santokh Singh 67
Village adopted: Ganna Pind, 8 km from Phillaur that is represented by BJP’s Avinash Chander. Population: 3,500
Why: Ganna Pind is infamous for drug peddling and the Sansi tribe, whose members are associated with thefts and making hooch, in Doaba. Drug abuse and trafficking, snatchings and illegal distillation of liquor are common crimes here. Chaudhary says it is one of the most backward villages with no infrastructure, no road, no hospital or sanitation. “Drug abuse is a serious problem in this village. I want to bring social and economic reforms here,” he says.
Wishlist: Sarpanch Gulzari Lal, 70, says villagers are hopeful of acche din ahead. “We are grateful to the MP for this chance to prove our excellence. Soon we will rid the village of the tag of drug abuse and crime,” he says, adding, “We need to build toilets. People are forced to defecate in the open. The middle school needs to be upgraded.”
In Sukhbir’s constituency
Sher Singh Ghubaya 52
Village adopted: Dhandi Kadim, a border village 6 km from Jalalabad sub division in Fazilka district.
Why: Ghubaya says, “I was keen on developing a border village. Dhandi Kadim is barely 3km from the Indo-Pak border. Facilitating civic amenities in this village will be my priority.” He plans to involve local residents in the process.
Political reason: Voters in the village have been backing the Akali Dal for consecutive elections. The fact that Dhandi Kadim falls in the constituency of SAD president and Jalalabad MLA Sukhbir Badal could be a prime reason for its adoption. Ghubaya could have otherwise chosen any village from among eight assembly segments in the Ferozepur seat.
Wishlist: Sarpanch Makhan Singh is grateful. He says, “This village urgently needs a primary health centre, a community hall, public toilets, better road connectivity and a park on panchayat land.”
Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar
Religion and tourism guide Khanna
Vinod Khanna 68
Village adopted: Talibpur Pandori, 8 km from Gurdaspur.
Why: Khanna says he has chosen the village because it has a religious connect and can be developed into a tourist spot. “Talibpur Pandori holds religious significance because there exists the ‘gaddi’ (seat) of Pindori of the Vaishnava Dham, one of the 52 Vaishnava Dvaras,” he says. Besides its tourism potential, the village occupies a central place in the Gurdaspur constituency.
Villagers’ wishlist: Sarpanch Ravinder Mahajan says the MP could help develop cottage industry units and a vocational skill centre for women besides ensuring requisite teaching staff for the village school. Cleaner roads and better sanitation are also a priority.
War hero’s village for Bittu
Ravneet Singh Bittu 39
Village adopted: Issewal, 14 km from Ludhiana
Why: Bittu says he chose Issewal as it happens to be the birthplace of martyr, flying officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon. He was posthumously awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his supreme sacrifice in the Indo-Pak war of 1971. “The government has paid tribute to this brave son of Punjab by releasing a postage stamp in his memory. I feel duty bound to adopt his native village,” he adds.
Wishlist: Expressing gratitude on behalf of the villagers, panch Gurjit Singh says, “All these years we have waited for good roads, a sewerage disposal system and potable water but in vain. With Bittu adopting Issewal, we are hopeful of better living conditions.”