Sevapuri in PM’s seat being developed as India’s first model block
Today, Amini, a little known village panchayat in Sevapuri, Varanasi, can boast of a panchayat secretariat equipped with Internet connection, a proper road, a wellness centre, sports ground surrounded by a boundary, garbage bins, and rickshaw carts to collect and dispose of waste, a newly built community toilet and a veterinary center.
But Amini isn’t alone: All 87 village panchayats in Sevapuri are being developed by Varanasi district administration as India’s first model block.
Niti Aayog selected Sevapuri block in the beginning of 2020 to turn it into a model ideal block by ensuring 100% implementation of Central and state government developmental and social welfare schemes in all of its 87 village panchayats.
However, Covid-19 delayed the implementation for about five months. In July 2020, Niti Aayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant visited Sevapuri and held a meeting with divisional commissioner Deepak Agarwal and district magistrate Kaushalraj Sharma.
“Under the model ideal developmental block project, we set 141 goals, including installation of garbage bins, providing rickshaw carts for garbage collection, construction of community toilets, transformation of government primary and upper primary schools, construction and renovation of panchayat secretariats with Internet connection, registration of people for old age, divyang and widow pension, skill development training and others to achieve desired outcomes,” said Deepak Agarwal, divisional commissioner.
All 87 village panchayats were connected to all-weather roads, had panchayat secretariats, 2,577 garbage bins were distributed in these villages, a community toilet was built in each village and 87 ponds were dug up. Also, 50 local young people interested in fisheries were imparted training by the department of fisheries. Then, 1,136 eligible people were enrolled for old age pension, 174 for divyang pension, 362 for widow pension and 282 for Mukhyamantri Kanya Sumangala Yojana.
Agarwal said now that each panchayat secretariat has internet connection and a common service center, locals don’t have to run to block office or tehsil for birth certificate, for their land documents or even for applying for pensions.
Under Operation Kayakalp, government primary and upper primary schools have been transformed. Children’s libraries were set up in 124 schools and classroom floors were tiled. Boundary walls were built in 13 schools which didn’t have them and 53 schools were given electricity connection. Drinking water facility was also provided in 23 schools.
“The model ideal developmental block Sevapuri project is an outcome -driven project,” said the divisional commissioner. “Out of the 141 goals, 122 have been achieved,” he added.
“It is important to note that we have achieved the desired outcomes simply by convergence of various departments’ schemes and funds available with them, without any additional resources,” he said.
Ouside Jogiyapur village in the ideal block area, a MNREGA-herbal park has been developed. Medicinal plants of 40 indigenous species such as Kaalmegh, Madar, Shatavari and Ashwagandha have been planted there. Four local women are assigned the task of looking after the park.
“Sevapuri developmental block was considered as the most interior developmental block in the district. It has been transformed now. Sevapuri developmental block office is equipped with an auditorium and high speed internet facilities,” said Devesh Singh, a senior employee at the block.
Over 2,200 volunteers were roped in to educate the locals about health and sanitation in the villages, said Umeshmani Tripathi, project director, District Rural Development Authority and nodal officer for the model block project.
Locals, however, aren’t so upbeat and voice mixed opinions. “Many developmental works have been done in our village,” said Phoolchand Kesari of Amini village.
However, another local, Sukharaj Patel, said, “Garbage bins have been placed in the villages to paint a rosy picture. But nothing has changed inside the villages. Lanes still need to be turned into concrete roads. Steps for employment generation should also be taken.”
Manoj Kumar, also of Amini village, said, “Wellness centre and other facilities are useful for the locals. In case of any ailment, they consult the health official deployed at the wellness centre. Niti Aayog should also have a concrete plan for employment generation in rural pockets so that people like me don’t remain jobless.”
Social activist Panchmukhi said, “Unemployment is a major problem in the area. It should be solved.”
Meanwhile, divisional commissioner Agarwal said Sevapuri would turn into a model ideal developmental block by April this year.