While several states in the country are still debating the pros and cons of going dry, Chhapariya in Madhya Pradesh has come a step closer to becoming a ‘nasha-mukt’ (liquor-free) village.
Chhapariya, with a total population of around 1,100, figures under Susner block of Agar district. Rajya Sabha MP Meghraj Jain had adopted it under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana on November 11, 2014, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the scheme on the birth anniversary of social reformer Jayaprakash Narayan.
Chhapariya came ninth on a list of India’s top 15 model villages released in August, a development that residents attribute to wholehearted support from Jain, round-the-clock monitoring by administrative officials, and their own hard work. And now, many villagers have vowed to renounce alcoholism – something they believe affects development as well as their personal well-being.
Sarpanch Ballu Singh Sisodiya said women residents of Chhapariya had been campaigning for an all-out alcohol ban for quite some time now. “They were, after all, the ones most affected by this malady. But after we achieved the Adarsh Gram tag, everybody from village elders to school children pitched in to make Chhapariya liquor-free,” he said.
Sisodiya said a group of youngsters vowed to reject liquor at a recent event attended by administrative officials. “It was during Ganesh Utsav that we picked a select group of people to take up the battle against liquor-addiction. They vowed to not only stay away from alcohol, but also spread awareness on its ill-effects among others. Our aim is to make Chhapariya liquor-free within the next one month,” he added.
“Now that we have achieved the model village tag, we want to make it ethical as well. It should become a place that everybody looks up to,” a local resident said.
When contacted, Jain hailed the achievements of Chhapariya residents. “What they have done is praiseworthy. The village has come so far only because of the determination showed by its inhabitants,” he said.
Agar district collector DV Singh also praised the villagers, stating that their efforts would set an example for others in the state. “We don’t just want to develop the place into a model village with all infrastructural facilities – we want it done ethically. For this, we have short-listed a few goals, and making the village completely addiction-free would be one of them,” he said.
Singh, who was present at the oath-taking event, said they are “60% closer to achieving the target” of a liquor-free village. “Soon, Chhapariya will be declared completely dry, and the credit for this will go to the villagers and their determination,” he added.