The Telegraph, April 23, 2014 (CHHANDOSREE)
Ranchi :: Earning an honest livelihood in Maoist hotbed of Chatra comes with unforeseen challenges. Yet, zilla parishad chief Mamta Devi managed to pull off the impossible: she built over 100 shops for young men and women of her panchayat to run.
Finally, her efforts have been recognised by the Centre which has rewarded her and five other panchayat institutions in Jharkhand, better known for underdevelopment and Maoist terror, with a collective purse of over Rs 1 crore.
Early this month, the state received word that the Union panchayati raj ministry had announced incentives for Chatra zilla parishad (Rs 50 lakh) and Sarath and Gamharia panchayat samitis in Deoghar and Seraikela-Kharsawan districts (Rs 25 lakhs each) along with three gram panchayats, Medinidih and Kasradih in Deoghar district, and Katkamdag in Hazaribagh district (Rs 15 lakh each).
Jharkhand has 4,411 panchayats, 259 panchayat samitis and 24 zilla parishads, but this is the first time it has been bestowed with such encouragement from the Centre under national plan for technical assistance (NPTA) of Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan for 2013-14.
“This is the first time that Jharkhand panchayats have made their presence felt at the national level. And NPTA incentives have come the state’s way for the first time,too,” said Vishnu Rajgadia, the state convener of Jharkhand Panchayat Women Resource Centre (JPWRC), a Unicef aided organisation that assists the state panchayati department.
Mamta Devi is one of two women who are at the helm of affairs among the six panchayat institutions that have been recognised.
“Chatra as you all know is not known for good reasons. Whenever people mention Chatra, they also talk of Maoist terror. The scene has changed now. Many young men who were lured by Naxalites are now running shops provided through our panchayat,” said Mamta.
She has built 60 shops in Simaria, 40 in Hundergunj, 20 in Itkhori. “Isi tarah har jagah dukan khol kar humnei yuvaon ko chalane ke liye protsahit kiya. (This is how we built shops in several areas and encouraged youths to run them. Now, if this is being lauded, what better reward can there be),” she said.
Mamta has another feather in her cap. She used available funds judiciously to build as many as 152 of 154 incomplete panchayat bhavans in Chatra.
“Jo bhi paise humko uplabdh karaye gaye, humne uska pura upyog kiya. Ab isko agar achcha maan raha hai to isse bada samman kya hoga (We used the money provided to us judiciously. If this has been recognised, what can be a bigger award than this),” she said.
Priyanka Kumari, the mukhiya of Katkamdag, is ecstatic about her achievements and the award. “Bahut kaam hua hai idhar. Kabhi aa ke dekhiye, achchha lagega. (A lot of work has been done here. Come sometime, you will like it),” she said.
Success in Jharkhand is rare. Hence, celebrations would be in order. But alas, the model code of conduct is in force for the Lok Sabha elections.