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Saturday 26 February 2000

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Ahmedabad
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Keriyanagar residents show the way

The Times of India News Service

RAJKOT: Keriyanagar, a small village near Amreli with a population of just around 2,500 people, has shown others what collective efforts can achieve. The residents have constructed check dams and deepened the village pond all by themselves.

The entire programme has been aptly named Apne haath Jagannath. Residents gather at the village after dusk to start their work. Men, women and children chip in to expedite the work of deepening the pond and constructing check dams.

It all started with the recurring water crisis in the area. The villagers decided to something about it. One day elders of the village decided to solve their problems themselves. Vasantbhai Haribhai Gajera took the lead. He made villagers understand that water conservation was the only way to their end misery. And for that they would have to work hard on their own. The idea was accepted.

Teams of 50 youth were formed on the spot, committees and equipment gathered from all possible sources. All possible sources of water were tapped. The number of voluntary workers soon started to swell.

The best thing about this exercise was that everyone was a comrade-in-arm. There were no office-bearers. Volunteers start work at 8.30 pm which gets over at around 11 pm. While the tractors carry out the desilting works, villagers started lifting the excess mud and filling it in trailors, which empty the soil at a chosen place. This mud and sand was used to make pucca road leading to the village.

So far the people have managed to make a 150 feet wide, 500 feet long and 20 feet deep pond. Every Tuesday, a member from the village arranges for snacks which people share together. Every Wednesday a gram sabha is held where previous week's work is analysed and suggestions made for the next week. No accusing fingers are ever raised at this meeting.

According to Amreli district collector Anju Sharma, the villagers have voluntarily done work worth around Rs 6 lakh. Work has been going on with the same zeal. Villagers have decided to construct seven check dams before the monsoon arrives.



The Economic Times


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