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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Pakistani delegation to visit Venganoor panchayat

By Our Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JULY 18. The Venganoor grama panchayat in the city suburbs is getting ready to receive a Pakistani delegation arriving here on Wednesday to study the strides made in poverty eradication, women empowerment and promoting communal amity by the panchayat. The visit of the Pakistani local bodies' heads assumes significance in the wake of the renewed efforts to strengthen bilateral relations.

Rewriting the conventional development paradigms, the panchayat has deviated from the path of expending huge amounts on infrastructure development and focused on welfare activities. A variety of schemes for children and the indigent old have been effectively implemented with the support of Kudumbashree. The panchayat has thus set a model worth emulating.

According to the president, Rufus Daniel, the accent was on bringing the impoverished and the marginalised sections to the mainstream. Out of the 8,128 families in the panchayat, 4,773 are below the poverty line. This includes marginal farmers, farm labourers, fish workers, manual labourers and those employed in the handloom sector.

With the fall in the prices of agricultural produces and declines in the handloom sector, majority was left unemployed and impoverished.

The panchayat then charted out programmes to eradicate poverty, improve the health and hygiene of children and opened free clinics for the old.

Women who were reluctant to join the development initiatives were motivated to take up bio-farming and lease-land farming.

Their produces were in great demand in the market. The handicraft units run by women were also thriving.

"We are planning for the future, when European countries will accept only the fruits and vegetables produced through bio-farming. The panchayat would emerge as the hub of agricultural exports," Mr. Daniel said.

The Area Development Societies comprising 15 to 20 families that directly involve in the day-to-day affairs of the locals have catalysed the development process.

According to the child development project director, K.Vijayachandran, educating the mothers about the relevance of emotional bonding and effective parenting was not easy. Constant counselling and awareness programmes have changed their attitude and even the mentally and physically challenged children are benefited. Apart from benefiting some 600 children directly, the project caters to hundreds of school children in the panchayat, he said.

These projects have not been earning revenue for the panchayat, but the people are contented and are on the path of becoming self-sufficient, self-reliant and self-sustainable. "When the members of the 12th Finance Commission visited the panchayat, we said our priority was to eradicate poverty and not to build roads and bridges and that had been accepted too. There are no communal clashes and cooperation beyond religion and politics has been ensured," Mr. Daniel said.

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