Updated: Nov 7, 2019
In Pune, India there exists a unique organisation, Science and Technology Park, (STP) whose mission is to blend science, technology, with human expertise and commitment to innovative and build a better world. In 2016 Dr. Rajendra Jagdale the head of STP received some troubling news.
Knowing the commitment and capabilities of Dr. Jagdale, an associate pleaded with him to help the people of his village where life had become unliveable and the future looked bleak. The village faced too many problems, the most serious being a lack of water, even drinking water.
Nestled in a valley, dry and empty of all its youth and energy, Panavadi was struggling to survive without any water. Drinking water was being supplied by government organised water tankers to keep the population alive.
What will people do by merely remaining alive, to live a life that seemed unworthy of living?
A brilliant scientist with a great heart, Dr. Jagdale, and his team studied the area and came up with an emergency plan while simultaneously drawing up a vision for the village. Not only to get Panavadi up and thriving, they would work with blending the skills, knowledge and experience of various individual, groups and experts with the skills, knowledge and needs of the local population to make it an Ideal village.
They would endeavour to demonstrate that a community committed to prosperity and well being could do so without demanding from the government resources and funds.
An ideal village could mean different things to each individual. An ideal village could be defined as one which meets the United Nations Sustainable development goals.
The first thing was to ensure supply of adequate water for drinking but to restore agriculture and cattle rearing.
A survey revealed that the valley had good rainfall, but all the water simply flowed away. Many decades ago, the village had built a large check dam but it had silted over and now unable to store any water.
A local contractor offered his construction machinery at no cost provided STP would arrange the diesel fuel. Some friends of Panvadi, Sakal Social Foundation with generous support of philanthropist Mr. Pratap Pawar and support from District administration pitched in and provided resources and the funds for the diesel.
Existing government program for road building was expedited so access to Panavadi became easier.
Within 45 days a lot of progress had been made when the monsoons arrived early. Even though the little lake had only been partially de-silted by then it held in storage an incredible 95 million cubic metres of water. It was a miracle for a resident population of only 500 persons.
In addition the water problem of the village for drinking and agriculture had been permanently resolved.
Now with the construction of 13 additional small, low cost check dams the village has become water surplus and exporting the high quality water to nearby areas.
Water is life.
Paddy and cultivation of other crops began in earnest. Cattle rearing is picking up and the village now produces and sells 900 litres of milk each day.
Now the village is witnessing a reverse migration. The village has begun to flourish as the youth return, to make a life and a living in the village, looking after their children and aged parents and tend to their farms and their cattle.
The population has crept back to 700 and is estimated to reach 1000 by end of next year.
Simultaneously STP has improved homes by providing smoke free forced draft wood and biomass pallet based cooking stoves, to reduce a leading cause of health problems afflicting women and children. Solar lamps provide illumination and ultrafiltration water treatment units ensure clean drinking water. Community cattle sheds are being established and the local schools are being modernised,
On October 2nd of this year on Gandhi Jayanti a Gram Sabha was held and the villagers voted for and pledged their support and commitment for a total transformation.
* The redesign and redevelopment of the village, residential areas, amenities and roads.
* Become completely organic and practice chemical free farming.
* Make the village self sufficient in energy
* Productively manage all their own waste.
* Set up their own bazar,
* Set up and operate an appropriate village industrial park,
* Develop agro tourism, aqua recreation, adventure and nature study centres.
* Enhance the quality of education
Currently 38 individuals in the village have a standard of living considered below the poverty line. A notable pledge was made, to raise the standard of living of these fellow villagers within next one year.
There is a misconception that rural, means poor, dirty and backward. If we go about it the right way, villages can be centres of high economic prosperity, while offering a good quality of life to residents and visitors.
Economic prosperity is best when local talent is developed to harness local resources to create products and services to efficiently meet the needs of markets. Naturally agriculture is key but plans have been drawn up to introduce energy production, manufacturing and services to achieve progress and prosperity.
Efforts are afoot to achieve the goals of enhancing the income levels of villagers by providing avenues other than agriculture. These include organic cultivation and supply of vegetables and fruits to nearby towns and [Pune](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pune) city. Orchards to rejuvenate the hill slopes and preserve further erosion of top soil. Assembly and testing of electronic products etc.
A new initiative of Eco tourism is being led by a volunteer [Arvind Patole, (contact no: 91- 985 050 9136) will start in December 2019.
Nature lovers can visit Panavadi and enjoy nature walks trek, observe and study the diverse and rich population of birds and animals, and to experience the beauty of a pristine valley reborn.
Visitors get to enjoy simple typical healthy, tasty and hygienic Maharashtrian village food. Its an opportunity to connect with and soak in the beauty of nature. Mountain cycling and boating are being introduced early next year.
At the pace of progress, its only a matter of a short time that one will see Panavadi become a role model of rural development. An example of how various stakeholders in society using their intelligence, knowledge and skills working together with beneficiaries, can transform our world in an economically, environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable way.
Committed to a better world, I serve as a volunteer for this project and contact point for new initiatives.
If you wish to know more, participate in or contribute resources, your time, skills, knowledge, experiences or funds, or contribute in any other manner please contact me
Email : Gurvinder Singh
Mobile: +91 - 957 951 0353 for WhatsApp & SMS communication.
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