Village Council (Gram Kosh) - An Ideal Example of Transparent Stewardship for Village Development

There is a misconception amongst people that any development work done either by Government or an organisation always involves corruption. To some extent, this misconception is acceptable. But the work done by CORO, with the support of residents of Paratvadi village has proved to be a phenomenal example of transparency in development work.

Paratvadi village in Maan taluka of Satara district has been drought-struck for years. Located at the foothill, in the remotest area, with 350 members of 72 families residing there. Lack of civic amenities and communication facilities is a common sight there. The village has been deprived of development plan from various Government schemes.

This village has been a part of CORO’s Mina Raju Manch, a gender equality initiative for a while now. As the team regularly interacted with the villagers, they had realised that water crisis is a serious issue in this village. Thus, CORO’s team in Satara decided to initiate a dialogue with the representatives of the village, in order to address water scarcity there. But unfortunately, the gram panchayat showed little or no interest to collaborate, while on the other hand, the Govt. also made no efforts.

A message was conveyed to the people - “If the village is ours, problems are also ours. In to solve these problems, people need to take an initiative. And only if the village people take an initiative, will CORO support them”. Thus, CORO started meeting and interacting with people, creating awareness. That is when people came forward to solve water crisis in their own village.

An elderly person from the village suggested that if a dam is constructed near the village border, on the western side of the primary school, the issue of drinking water and water-required for agriculture will be solved. Hence, construct a dam was planned. For this reason, it was decided that money money will be collected from the village people and the remaining amount required for construction will be provided by CORO. But, this led to a new controversial and questions like, “where will we keep the collected money?, who will keep it?, who can be trusted with the amount?” were raised, because previously public money for such development projects had got wasted. To solve this issue, a representative from CORO presented an idea. A public meeting was called and there he suggested the concept of Gram Kosh (village cells), which later received legalisation from the gram sabha.

In the gram kosh, village youth Nagnath Mohite was made the president while a representative from CORO was selected as a secretary, and in this gramkosh, all the communities of the village were included, of which 50% were women. Bank accounts were opened in SBI Dahiwadi. The secretary and president were given the authority of signing the cheques, while the cheque book was kept with the treasurer. To give cheque, two groups were nominated and, to buy materials, four groups were nominated. Along with that, whatever work has to be done was decided in the gramkosh meeting. It included - auditing the collected amount, execution of plans and preparation of guidelines to run the activities. Under the guidance of an expert and with the support of village people, a cement dam was constructed. Maan taluka’s tahsildar Surekha tai helped in making the sand available for construction, while other required material was bought from the money deposited in the Gram Kosh.

AND THE RAINS ARRIVED! The damn water started flowing, spreading the joy of happiness in Paratvadi. Children and the elders made the most of it. Now there was enough water for the cattle; the water level in the wells increased. Most importantly, the hand pump near the school began overflowing with water. Water crisis in Paratvadi was solved forever. To celebrate this milestone, a function was held where Surekh tai was also present.

The concept of corruption has caused several problems in the functioning of gram kosh, at various places and the work done is also substandard. But that wasn’t the case here; deepening the bond between CORO and the village. The gram kosh of Paravadi village has 100590 Rs amount left with them.The village people have decided to take support from CORO if there are any issues in the future.

And that’s how the gram kosh of Paratvadi village has proved to be an ideal example for many others.