This is the story of Hansapura village of Dabhoi taluk of Vadodara district. Raman Vasawa’s laborer father died in abject poverty and illness. The job of teaching 9-year-old Raman to read and write in Dabhoi was not possible for Sana Ukkad’s widow. The reason was poverty, widowhood and the responsibility of raising two boys on Lakshmi. Named only Lakshmi, but registered as the surviving widow of Sana Ukad in the Panchayat office of Hansapura village, Lakshmi received poverty from both her father and father-in-law. Today, at the age of 55, Lakshmibehan owns the property of her sons, her daughters-in-law and their sons together with 11 people and a mud hut.
But fortunately, a tribal family living under the poverty line, with an income of less than Rs.20,000 per year, got the benefit of the Sardar Awas Yojana, and Lakshmi Behe’s family got a 20 sq. The amount of Rs.1,75,000/- received under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana was fully realized, not only that, but also the labor contribution of the beneficiary and the servitude of the voluntary organization added the brick-cement house with their own hard work, with their own rights.
The life of Lakshmi of Hansapura village is showing some hope. Housing is becoming almost equally effective for all the destitute, giving stability to the painful wandering life of the poor, preventing the migration of the inherited poor, giving identity to the deprived and the tribal family. There is a plan to provide Pradhan Mantri Awas to the homeless within the limits of 75 percent subsidy from the Government of India and 25 percent subsidy from the state government. An additional assistance of Rs.38,000/- per household is also provided for repairing dwellings.
The Gujarat government in its latest budget has released an ambitious program to build 1,12,000 houses by allocating Rs.165 crore for housing the poor, which will become a model for other states across the country. So the Gram Nirman Sangh, which is located on the sea coast of Saurashtra, has given the recognition to the poor man by providing accommodation to 700 families living below the poverty line. In the 75 years of independence, billions of rupees have been spent in the name of the poor but unfortunately they do not reach the poor. The state government officials and political parties who drag 68 rupees out of 100 rupees as administrative expenses have also kept the poor in the villages in that position. Amidst this situation, work has been done to distribute schools, hospitals, roads and drinking water in the villages of the state under the Gokul Village Scheme. It added a housing scheme for the poor so there was a glimmer of hope.
The State Government has expressed its resolve to curb corruption by admitting that these schemes are being implemented under the direct supervision of the State Rural Ministry. Not only this, but the voluntary organizations of the district collectively purchase the necessary goods for housing and facilitate the service of the retired engineers of the district, increasing public credibility and reducing administrative burden.
The government has welcomed the politics of development to separate public participation from the government bureaucracy in the implementation of the scheme. Not only this, flexibility has been adopted for the use of local materials in the form of construction materials while keeping the basic standards fixed at the time of implementation of the scheme. Hence, cheap and sustainable housing technologies are seen to be implemented.
With this scheme started from Jagam Oganaj near Gandhinagar and gradually established in almost all the villages of Gujarat, if organizations like Gujarat Ecology Commission are complemented, housing can be prepared from eco-friendly bricks made from ash, lime, kawari dust, asphalt type industrial by-products and agro-waste and Fertile land along the banks of rivers and lakes will stop digging. Fertile land for agriculture will be preserved and new standards of construction will prevail.
Ghar Ghar is an attempt to identify the new generation by freeing them from begging or child labor by stabilizing the carters carrying sheep and goats, the Padhars traveling for pottery, the Jats and Duffaros of Kutch, the salt farmers and the wandering Vanjaras. With the arrival of a brick house in the life of Sana Ukadni Lakshmi of village Hansapura, self-respect and social prestige have come to the life of a working woman, who has been known as someone’s widow in the panchayat register for 28 years.
House to house brings joy to the lives of many poor Lakshmis who lead a wandering life. Not only this, the government can become public oriented through voluntary organizations. If the activity of housing for the poor is strengthened when the end is realized in the true sense, the efforts of Gujarat can give a new direction to the country.
Dr. Nanak Bhatt – The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.