Tired of the apathy of the local authorities who failed to repair a badly damaged road for two decades, village residents in Pisurti took matters into their own hands.
“The tyre got stuck in a pothole and the vehicle tumbled over. My back was severely hurt, I couldn’t even walk,” says Chandrabai, a resident of Pisurti Village in Maharashtra’s Pune district. Chandrabai is not the only one to have borne the brunt of the authorities’ apathy. Farmers have lost their produce owing to accidents on the broken road and children have dropped out of school because it is impossible for them to commute. The problem of a barely-there road has plagued the residents of Pirusti for over two decades.
“It’s a three kilometre road, and highly accident prone. No one compensates the village residents for their losses and the nearest hospital is five kilometers away in Walhe, for which they have to take the same broken road”, says Community Correspondent Rohini Pawar who made a video on the state of the road. The problem, Rohini points out, is the non-implementation of government schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Aamcha Gaon Aamcha Vikas.
Rohini met the predominantly cattle-rearing community of Pisurti in February to assess the problem and chalk out a plan of action. Later in the month, after filming the issue, she showed the video to the Transportation Officer of the Pune Division. “He said that his department will conduct a survey and sent a bus for a survey the very next day. In the next 2-3 days, a report was sent to the Transportation Office in Pune and the Village Council here. The report identified encroachments as a major problem.”
Over the next month, Rohini held meetings with the community and the Village Council and screened the video to collectively decide what the next step should be. “We contemplated getting the PWD (Public Works Department) on board but decided against it because it would only mean a waste of money and time along with bureaucratic procedures”, she says. From the experience that the community had had, writing to the PWD had always been futile and they did not want to waste precious time once again. In the video, she is seen convincing the community to take matters in their own hands and work on building the road together.
“Rohini was very helpful, she got all of us residents together. The Video Volunteers team understood our issues and gave us many possible options.”
“Rohini was very helpful, she got all of us residents together. The Video Volunteers team understood our issues and gave us many possible options”, says Rajendra Barkade, a Village Council member.
The residents decided to repair the road themselves; some came with their tractors and machines, some with their labour and some with money for the overhead costs. Within two days, the collective efforts ensured that two kilometres of the three kilometre stretch was repaired.
Not wanting to stop at the success, Rohini followed up with the Transportation Office this month to ensure better infrastructure and public transport for Pisruti. “The official I was in contact with earlier had been transferred so the Village Council members and I met the new officer and gave him a detailed letter on behalf of the Council describing our work so far”, she says. The official has promised another survey in October, and Rohini is hopeful about Pisurti getting better roads and other public amenities.
Rohini’s engagement with the community members, the local governing body and the state officials exemplifies the importance of community-led efforts and collective decision-making. She tells us that the process has boosted her own self-confidence and the self-confidence of her community. We hope that Pisurti’s story of development presents a model to development efforts elsewhere as well.
Article by Alankrita Anand