This activist wore the same shirt for three years till his demand for a tank in his village was met

Workers gather to start contour-bunding work in Handiganur village in Belagavi district.

Workers gather to start contour-bunding work in Handiganur village in Belagavi district.  

Jyotiba Kallappa’s perseverance helps bring a tank to his village in Belagavi

Of late, Jyotiba Kallappa’s attire is turning heads in Handiganur and surrounding villages. It is not his sense of fashion that is making him famous. It is just the fact that for the first time in three years, he has changed his shirt.

He had taken an oath that he would not change his shirt till the government dug a tank in his village, and stuck to it for three long years. He had been going around various government offices wearing the same light blue shirt, asking them to sanction a percolation tank that could provide water to the fields. and every time he spoke to a government officer, he told them — pointing out at his shirt — that he would wear it as long as they did not sanction a tank. The social worker and worker leader always carried a cloth bag in which he had scores of copies of his applications, drafted in Marathi, for a tank in his village. “I don’t what anything for myself. I want the tank for the fields and our animals,” he wrote on the application. Finally, the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj sanctioned a tank for Handiganur village. It will be taken up under the MGNREGA scheme. But Jyotiba Kallappa is not happy yet. “I will be happy when the tank is completely built and I carry home a pot of water from it,’’ he told The Hindu. A site of 21 acres, marked out of the 32-acre grazing land on the outskirts of the village, has been selected for the tank. Zilla panchayat officials have conceived it to be a micro watershed and begun work from the top. “We have begun work on the ridge to valley line. We are creating contour bunds and boulder checks from the mountain top to the valley side. Once we reach the plateau, we will start work on the tank. It will begin in a week,’’ ZP Chief Executive Officer K.V. Rajendra said.

Gram panchayat officials say that the work may need between 1,500-1,600 workers on the project everyday. But Jyotiba Kallappa is not worried. “The site for the tank is surrounded by four or five villages. People from all these villages can contribute to the construction of the tank. I will personally go and invite workers to the site, as it would help percolate water and push up the aquifers in all the nearby villages,’’ he said.

He is also happy that Maharashtra returnees from Handiganur and other villages will come to work on the MGNREGA site. “The COVID-19-forced lockdown may finally turn out to be a good thing for our village, after all,’’ he said. “The demand for work in our village is very high. I am sure the gram panchayat accommodates all of them,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 3:56:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-self-less-pursuit-of-common-good/article31782268.ece

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