KUNEGAON, FEBRUARY 15, 2011: The village’s primary school in Kunegaon has just two rooms for the Nursery and Classes I to IV. The Government has several tribal welfare schemes, which not necessarily reaches them. Much of this is due to lack of awareness, of the procedures to procure them and the lack of documentation (birth certificates, PDS cards, tribal certificate, house 7/12 extract, etc.)
Through the Social and Financial Inclusion Programme (SnF), there have been several measures to get access to such resources, to build the capital of the rural poor. There have been meetings for the village development scheme (road, bridge, school, water tank, community toilets, etc). R 5 Lakhs has been allotted to the Gram Panchayat for each village area. The Garkhul scheme wherein the Government provides bricks, cement, tin sheets, and other building materials to build one’s own house, schemes for getting the local PHC’s doctor to visit the village thrice a week, library, gymnasium, common water connection, electricity, etc.
For these, the first step of making the individuals’ documentation has been a challenge. To get the villagers to go to the Thesildhar or Municipal birth registration office, fill in forms, get grandparents or parents death certificates, having collective cast certificate camps, etc. makes the programme go slow, but gets the people to be independent and understand how to obtain what is their ‘Right’. It has taken four years to get electricity to the Kunegaon village, due to lack of documentation. In 2007, seven of the seventy five houses had some documentation, after much effort today; thirty five houses have the required documentation that helped obtain those houses getting electrification. (The other houses pull a wire for a clf bulb and share the metered bill with those that have a legal meter). The process has been a bit quicker with Pangoli villages as they have been much more socially conscious and aware of their Rights. The documentation and procuring of Government schemes has been more intense due to the local villagers having a consensus on electing their own tribal as the village headman in the Gram Sabha.
The village headman is also employed as the Community Development coordinator of Maria Ashiana. He has been giving consultancy service to other tribal village headmen of the neighboring Kathkari villages on how to get their villagers’ documentation, which schemes to apply for, the procedures, requirements, etc. This has helped the SnF Programme to spread its influence without employing more staff. This approach has been proven to be slow, but given results in the neighboring villages of Vanathi and Battery Hill.
The grooming of village leaders and facilitating them to play a role of consultants to their own neighboring villages is an approach which is multipliable as is being now worked out with a couple of organizations like Sparsh, Somerval and in some NGOs of the Caritas network.