A word of praise for Odanthurai panchayat

THE STATE Institute for Rural Development took the 13 best panchayat presidents of Tamil Nadu on a tour to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi recently. The State Finance Commission funded this.

According to P. Shanmugam, president, Odanthurai panchayat, they got to witness the work of Anna Hazare, a social activist, who with community participation implemented rainwater harvesting in Maharashtra without any assistance from the Government in 1975. As a result, the groundwater level stood at 15 feet.

In Madhya Pradesh, thanks to the 25 per cent public contribution, lots of check dams were constructed thus facilitating the rise in the level of groundwater.

In Jaipur, during the 11th century, Rajput kings contributed immensely towards rainwater harvesting.

Tanks which could store four crore litres of water were constructed. This was sufficient to store water for 10,000 soldiers for a period of two years.

A former Government official, Rajendra Singh, constructed 7,200 check dams at Bigumbura in Rajasthan.

The place, which was declared by the Government as a `black zone' during 1957-1985 (no water at all), became a `white zone' with surplus water due to the construction of checkdams.

"We also got a golden opportunity to meet the President Abdul Kalam in Delhi. He was briefed about the generation of electricity from bio-waste in Odanthurai panchayat. He lauded our plans to eliminate huts and provide employment for all in the village."

Appreciating the good work of Siruthuli, Abdul Kalam said that villages should be upgraded for the overall development of the nation. Education should be improved and standardised.

Every panchayat should take up the responsibility of planting at least 1,000 saplings. Ponds and lakes also should be kept clean, he added.

By Vidyashree Amaresh

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