Sunday, September 25, 2011

Village level dynamics over formation of water committee – Field experience

As a follow-up to the decisions taken during CB and stakeholders’ workshop in Gurgaon, efforts are being made towards formation of a village level water committee. However, village dynamics come into picture when one goes about forming the committee.  Below is an account of our interaction with the Sarpanch in Sultanpur village. The field visit was made by Pranay Ranjan and Dr. Vishal Narain.

One of the highlights of the day was the conversation we could have with the village Sarpanch. He was slightly busy with his responsibility of distributing old age pension to the fellow villagers. Sarpanch of a nearby village, Kaliawas, was also around. Interestingly, when the Sultanpur Sarpanch mentioned that water pipelines in his village are in a dilapidated stage, the Kaliawas Sarpanch agreed with him and said that his village also faces the same issue. Susheel ji, the Sultanpur Sarpanch, went on to add that it is only when the old cement pipes are changed and new Iron pipes are re-laid that the water situation will improve. We also asked him what he wanted to do next in order to improve the water situation in this village. His first reaction to this question was ‘aap batao, aapka kya programme hai’, which means, ‘you tell me what is your programme’! We had to reiterate the fact that it is a village issue and the villagers need to take the initiative and come forward on this. In the same context, we asked him for his views on formation of village level water management committee. To this, he said that it will be possible to form the committee only after the water pipes have been changed and water starts reaching every house. It is only then that one needs to form a committee that looks after the water issues. He added that even if a committee is formed, he and other Panchayat members would have to do all the running around. People will not take much initiative. ‘Committee ban bhi gayee, to kaam to mujhe hi karna padega’. (‘Even if the committee is formed I will have to do all the work’,) he said.

We also took this opportunity to ask him if he thinks that some improvement has happened in responsiveness of service providers since the inception of our work in the village. To this, he said that there has been a lot of improvement in this regard. We also told him about the importance of putting pressure on service providers, in order for them to deliver. We also said that we are around whenever they need any help. However, they should take up the water issues actively on their part as well. To this, the Sarpanch said that, ‘Thoda aap dabaaw daalte raho, thoda hum bhi dabaaw daalte rahein to kaam sahi ho jayega! What this means is, ‘you put some pressure, we will also put some pressure; by doing so, the work will get done’! 

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