On 7th July, a very important event was organised at Merakani Village of Tentulikhunti Block by the District Administration of Nabarangapur in Collaboration with the villagers and the NGO Agragamee. It was the last day of Vana Mohastav and Bamboo seedlings were planted as per the need of the Villagers who are Bamboo Weavers. They are going to Kalahandi forest 20kms away to get the special bamboo needed for their Bamboo Craft. The DFO and the Ranger of Forest had made special arrangements to bring the Bamboo Seedlings from Malkangiri. I have been writing in the Facebook on Merakani Village which is developing as a Model Village for the District, for Odisha and for India as well. And why Merakani? It is a Tribal Village where most of the tribals are landless and involved in Bamboo Weaving. Land ( both Revenue and Forest ) have not been settled as yet. I had visited this village 30 years back while doing a study on Socio-economic Impact of Indravati Hydro-electric Power Project supported by the World Bank. I had fallen in love with the village and had planned to develop it but had undertaken some programmes with Action Aid for Non-formal Education and later on a Watershed Project to develop Natural Resources though the village was landless.
After reading my Facebook Postings on Merakani Village , the Collector and District Magistrate Dr. Ajit. Kumar Mishra and the Development Commissioner Mr. P.K Jena had taken immense interest in this village. The Collector had visited the village in February and laid the foundation of a long term development of the village. He had sanctioned 55lakhs for infra-structure development ( Tank, Road, Community Building etc). and then came the question of Sustainable Livelihood for the community. Yesterday, in the village meeting, many things were discussed and a number of proposals have been suggested like a) More Bamboo Plantation under National Bamboo Mission, b) Promotion of Agro-horticulture Plantations and Millet, Pulses and Indigenous Rice, c) Skill Development in Bamboo Craft, Mushroom Cultivation d) Settlement of Land under FRA and Land to the Landless etc. Tribal men and women had articulated their plan to have Sustainable Development. Along with the Collector, the PD, DRDA, the DFO, the DDH, the CDAO, the CDVO, the Dist. Fishery Officer, the PD, Watershed, the Deputy CEO ORMAS , the BDO, the Tehsildar and many other officials had participated and presented various schemes which will benefit the villagers. The Villagers had assured their full participation and co-operation. The village has been fully immunised and fully vaccinated against Covid. Thanks to the Collector, the School which had been closed as per the Government Policy has been reopened.
I have my profound faith in the collaborative approach by bringing the Community, the Panchayats, the NGOs and ,above all, the Administration. For this kind of framework the then Planning Commission had set up a Joint Machinery involving 20 GoI secretaries and 20 leading NGO Leaders( including me). The PMO was also involved. There is no dearth of funds at the district level, at the state and central level. What is lacking is the Mission Approach and Political Will to make the village develop as Adarsha Gaon in tune with Gandiji’s Gram Swaraj!