March 11, 2002

Inspiration for the day




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Maniradhan, Muthuvallur village, Cheekode Panchayat, Malappuram.

When the average citizen is wont to throw up his hands and claim that nothing will improve around him, here is an exception.  Maniradhan, a peon in a Government school, has been the catalyst of development and change at the Muthuvallur village, Cheekode Panchayat, Malappuram.

His work began in 1996 when, as a volunteer for Kerala Sanstra Sahitya Parishad, he was in the forefront explaining the significance of Panchayati Raj institutions to the villagers.  His suggestion that development work is apolitical and hence the Panchayat Member from Muthuvallur Ward should be an Independent found a few takers.  And their idea triumphed when an independent candidate won from the Ward.

With the launching of People’s Plan, Muthuvallur could obtain some funds for the drinking water supply project that the people desperately needed.  In the hilly regions of Pallikkuttu and Kottamparambu, women had to walk  11/2 kilometres to bring water.  However, the poor residents could ill-afford to generate the amount needed as beneficiary’s contribution.

It was then that Maniradhan came up with the ‘Village Saving Scheme’, which was like a Chitty for the rural poor.  The participants made monthly contributions and took part in draws and loans.  The profit so generated was canalized to fund the water supply project.

Next they obtained land for the well and storage tank free of cost from the villagers.  But the technical problem of pumping water over a height of 106 m and a distance of 1290m remained. Yet such problems vanished before the collective will of the people.  The people themselves built the 6m diameter tanks for storing water and now there is water even atop Pallikkuttu and Kottamparambu.

He then organized Women’s Forum.  After giving sufficient training to the women, a Rural Sanitary Mart was opened.  The profit from the venture went to the construction of a kitchen for the UP School and a toilet for the Anganwadi.  Women masons constructed the toilet.

Rainwater harvesting was another venture of Maniradhan.  In order to convince the Panchayat about the viability of the scheme, he constructed a 5000 litre unit in his own house.  Later, with the help of PTA and others a 1 lakh litre capacity unit was constructed for the UP School.

A check dam across Kuliyottu Chola, grocery store run by the villagers, these are some of the other activities where Maniradhan is a catalyst.

To those who say that nothing will improve, here is Maniradhan’s answer: “Have you done anything for what you feel is right?  Are you saying so after making all your effort?”

(tanks constructed for water supply scheme)


Courtesy: R. Subhash, Kerala Kaumudi

Contributed by: Administrator