A panchayat in Mhow led by a woman sarpanch has become a role model for rural self-governing bodies in Indore district by getting itself certified by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
After the district collectorate and the district panchayat buildings went in for ISO certifications now it is the gram panchayats that are vying for the coveted accreditation to provide better facilities to people living in the rural pockets.
Only three other panchayat buildings, including Baigram, Gawli Palasia, and Navda-all in Mhow tehsil-have received the ISO 9001: 2008 certification that is given after several parameters are fulfilled. Kodariya joined the list on July 29.
The Kodariya panchayat building, around 5 km from Mhow town, a mud and lime structure with thick walls and sloping stone-tiled roof was constructed in the 1950s.
Though an old construction with thick and stone tiles, what strikes you most is the cleanliness of the building and its surroundings, which is unlike most other panchayat buildings that one comes across in the state.
Neatly arranged desks and chairs, hygienic toilets, clean drinking water and most importantly, systematic records have helped the panchayat to get the ISO certificate.
“All our records are up to date. While new entries are computerized, we are in the process of entering data of previous years. Most importantly, death and birth records have all been computerized,” says sarpanch Anuradha Joshi, who studied till Class 12.
“We have to be up to date in this age,” says tech savvy Joshi, who surfs the internet and is active on the social media networking circuit.
Attitude towards work is also changing among those working in the office, says Subhash Patel, the head clerk at the panchyat office.
“Earlier, Kodariya with a population of more than 25,000 was like any other panchayat, filled with workers who had no motivation.
“The transformation of the panchayat building has changed our attitude and nowadays we look forward to coming to office and working.”
Ramesh Patel, a villager, whose father Radhakishan Patel was a previous sarpanch, says: “Things have changed for the better. It is very easy to trace documents and get work done.’
“Earlier, finding documents was a big headache as it was all mixed up.”
Indore district panchayat CEO Ashish Singh agrees.
“Though we do not monitor the working of each panchayat from this office but it is a fact that when processes become streamlined, overall working improves,” he says.
However, not everything is hunky-dory in the panchayat, just because the building is ISO certified.
“We still have lots to do. There is scarcity of water, which is supplied once every five days,” Joshi says.
“Cleanliness has to be improved and we are perennially short of funds. Our expenses are Rs 2 lakh a month whereas our income only Rs 1 lakh.
“But we have made a good beginning and things will only improve.”