Transforming a Village
Punsari is ranked as the best village in India. But the journey was started by a young student from the village to make it the best.
Mr Himanshu Patel, the current Sarpanch (elected village head) has worked since late 1990s in this regard.
The village now is clean, green, sustainable, healthy, not poor, and a model for other villages.
Courtesy - The Better India
His family moved into a nearby town for a better life. When he would go back to his village, he would see the differences – no electricity, no water, bad law and order.
By the time he completed University, the situation became worse and the village administration was in debt; 328 families were below poverty line.
He researched heavily on government schemes available to help Punsari and volunteered a lot. But no one would listen to him.
After graduating University, in 2006, he decided to contest Village elections and became the youngest Sarpanch of Punsari, at the age of 22.
There were immense challenges ahead – no money, increasing debt, lot of opposers, no team, people not ready to adopt better lifestyles because of lack of education.
He created a team of 60 members from the existing government employees in the village, all working in different departments
He helped them in their work and created a progress reporting system.
The first step he took was building trust with the villagers and solving the problems they had instead of imposing solutions on them. He did this for 3 years.
He fulfilled all basic needs of the people, and made sure he did not take help from any NGO or CSR or donation of funds.
He started applying for existing government schemes efficiently
Within 2 years, by 2008, the village got roads, electricity, street lamps, a water distribution system and toilet in every house.
In 2009, he installed speakers all around the village for keeping communication open between the office and the village.
He would use this to send birthday wishes and condolence messages as well
He hired a van to collect waste and transfer to a power plant using waste to generate electricity.
The village has CCTVs in all schools and govt offices.
There is cheap wi-fi available in the entire village – any villager can get 30mbps data for less than 80 yen per month
The village has started its own mini bus service for dairy farmers which drops them and picks them up from the milk bank.
This has resulted in reducing the Infant Mortality Rate and Mother Mortality Rate to zero
All children are vaccinated, no children have mal-nutrition and all deliveries are done in hospitals and not at homes
He is training 100 youngsters to take charge of the village administration in the future