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Gujarat's Punsari panchayat - villagers’ pride, neighbours’ envy

Monday, 7 November 2011 - 7:10pm IST

This quaint little village in Sabarkantha district has won an award of Rs25 lakh from govt for its outstanding work in the village.

This quaint little village in Sabarkantha district, 80 km from Ahmedabad, has won state government's best village panchayat award in Gujarat. DNA tries to find out the reasons why the village deserves the award.

Ministers seldom visit villages except for public functions. But Punsari village in Talod taluka of Sabarkantha district, is an exception. Having heard about the amenities available in this 'rurban' village - rural area with urban facilities - a minister and government officials paid it a visit to check out the facts.

Here, you get RO treated water for a minimal charge. You also have a school bus to ferry your wards, and that too on clean RCC roads. You won't mind the expenses for the services you are benefiting. Again, the panchayat has provided public transport which is a boon for villagers.

Not to mention that a unique system of communication between the panchayat office and the whole village keeps people informed. These unique features made available by its village panchayat fetched Punsari an award of Rs25 lakh and another award for its young sarpanch, Himanshu Patel, who was feted as the best Sarpanch at district level. The state government has announced the awards on November 4.

The awards will be given to the village panchayats by chief minister Narendra Modi on November 16 at Mahatma Mandir, Gandhinagar during the Sarpanchs meet where village chiefs from across the state are expected to gather.
All these facilities came to light when the sarpanch of Punsari made a presentation in the 'Chalo Taluka' function of the state government.

Says Himanshu Patel, 28, sarpanch of the village, "When I made the presentation, the minister of state Mohanbhai Kundaria felt that I was boasting and exaggerating about the amenities in the village. He decided to pay a visit to the village to see the reality. I didn't have to make any preparations to prove my point. I just called on the system installed in my panchayat office and informed the villagers that we are reaching in 15 minutes. Around 500 villagers had gathered to welcome us."

The minister and other state government officials were surprised and impressed. "When I was elected sarpanch of the village in 2006 there was no sewerage connection, no street lights, no pucca roads and, of course, no source of income for the gram panchayat except the grants and funding from various state and Union government schemes. In consultation with the talati (gram panchayat secretary) we decided to create a corpus for the village panchayat," said Patel.

Patel was exposed to village administration as his father and grandfather had  also been sarpanch of Punsari. However, he infused young blood into it.

"There was need for extra land to build houses. According to the 2001 census, the village had a population of 4,681 people, which increased to 5,500 in 2011. So, we decided to release the land under the panchayat," said Patel.

Giving details, the talati of the village, Nanjibhai Parmar said, "We prepared a proposal to sell plots of village panchayat land to the villagers. We lobbied to get the proceeds of the sales from the state government and created a corpus of around Rs 30 lakh. With this, we undertook developmental projects in the village."

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