Once known for crime, Chakar village, 115-km from Patiala, is today a model village. Its residents say the ‘turn around’ happened without any government help, but with the efforts of a professor, non-resident Indians (NRIs) and youths of the village.
Today, the village has three lakes with boating facility, a sports academy, sewage water treatment plant, groundwater recharge system, parks, public canteen, waiting area at bus stand, a panchayat office-cum-guest house.
“Until a few years ago, crime was rampant here and people wanted to migrate to other countries,” said sarpanch Major Singh. But now the village owns about 350 medals from state, national and international events.
The ‘wind of change’ started when in 2004, Prof Balwant Singh, PhD Punjabi literature, shifted back to this village with his wife. The professor started visiting the school to motivate youths to aspire for ‘higher things’. This resulted in the boys and girls taking up games.
“The then panchayat support us by supplying sports kits. Parents were happy with their children taking up something constructive instead of indulging in drugs and other criminal activities,” said, the professor.
Help from NRIs
In February 2006, impressed by the work initiated by the professor, NRI sons of the village: twin brothers from Canada Ajmer Singh Sidhu and Baldev Singh Sidhu decided to set up a sports academy and started giving monetary help to the village.
Soon, the youths on their own started facelifting the 5 acre ground. By August 2006, the youths created a temporary boxing ring made of clay with poles fixed on corners to tie the ropes. The then DSP Barnala Davinder Singh helped them with a boxing coach and also used to himself train the players.
Ajmer started regularly visiting the village from Canada hold discussions with the villagers. Soon, the then 50-year-old NRI turned into a beloved ‘uncle ji’ of the village.
The next project
After finishing one project, Ajmer, in 2010, decided to develop a sewage system in the village. Fortunately, the same year he came across Sant Seechewal in Canada, who readily agreed to help Ajmer and visited the village along with him. With a budget of Rs 2 crore, the work on the sewage system began in early 2011.
“Villagers and especially youths took part in it and started laying the sewage pipes and reconstructing the roads in the village. The young boys would readily jump in garbage filled puddle to clean it,” said, Balwant Singh.
Kevin Morgan, Irish friend of Ajmer Singh, donated Rs 1 crore in 2012. The village has no drains and the roads are built in such a slope that all the rain water collects at the lakes. “The twins did not build any house in Chakar but they built the whole village which they considered as their home,” remembered Ram Singh. The beloved ‘uncle ji’ passed away in December 2014.
Mandeep Kaur, world junior boxing championship 2015 winner, bronze medalist Harpreet Kaur and Sukhdeep Singh (Indian boxing team member), all from this village, say the best thing about Chakar was that the environment here provides opportunities on all platforms.
‘‘Women face no such problems here like that in other parts of state,’’ they said.
MLA Jagraon, SR Kaler praised the efforts of the villagers but said the government contributed as much as it could.