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Punjab village fights drug addiction with youth power

Doing their bit: Youngsters taking part in community work at Bhai Desa village in Punjab.

Doing their bit: Youngsters taking part in community work at Bhai Desa village in Punjab.  

Bhai Desa in Mansa district promotes community service

Punjab’s youth have opened a new front in the battle against drug addiction. Mansa district in the State is deploying youth energy to prevent idle time and potential addiction. They run campaigns on single-use plastics, stubble burning, tree planting, road safety, and against drugs. The motto: ‘mera pind-mera maan’ (my village, my pride).

About 10 km from the headquarters, in Bhai Desa village (population 1,700), the streets are clean and green, and the walls shout out positive messages — the work of youth volunteers.

Anti-plastic drive

At Bhai Desa, youngsters persuade a shopowner to discard plastic bags, to meet the village’s March target to go plastics-free.

They are members of Naujawaan Ekta Club. They are assured by Majorjeet Singh, the grocery shop owner, that his current stock of plastic bags will be his last. The club bagged the top award at the district level for community work on Republic Day.

“A year ago we decided to clean up, and paint the walls of all dwellings. Families contributed money. The sarpanch extended support. We planted over 5,000 trees, and started morning and evening walks to promote health. Women, children and elders joined in. Littering is prohibited,” says Balbir Singh, 40, the club’s patron.

“Drug addiction is a serious problem in Punjab. We want to save youth from its grip,” says Kewal Singh, 30, farmer, and club president. Deputy Commissioner Apneet Riyait launched the ‘mera pind-mera maan’ contests last year.

Mr. Kewal Singh says, “Already 70% of people here use cloth bags. Creating awareness of the hazardous effects of plastic is our priority. Also we are introducing scientific waste management. Mohali-based RoundGlass Foundation is giving us technological know-how. There are close to 270 houses in the village.”

Shopowner Majorjeet Singh believes that busy youngsters are not attracted to drugs. “We have six shops and none sells any tobacco-based products,” he says.

Applauding the club’s activities, sarpanch Harbans Singh says, “Youth in Punjab are trapped by drugs, but in my village there is negligible addiction.”

Stubble burning

“Stubble burning in the village is down by 60% in comparison to last season, and it is the result of the youth campaign,” he adds. There were similar contests last year too.

Ms. Riyait says wherever there was good synergy among the youth clubs and local panchayat or the sarpanch, the outcomes were encouraging. “Visits were made to the villages by government officials to monitor the work during the competition period, which ended on December 31,” she adds.

Naujawan Ekta Club Bhai Desa and Bhai Kanhaiya Club Burj Dhilwan were awarded certificates and cash prize of ₹ 5 lakh each on January 26.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:10:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punjab-village-fights-drug-addiction-with-youth-power/article30778041.ece

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