VSSM’s early journy into vadiya and there after — Some Milestone Episodes —-
Here we are with our talk on our Early Journey Into Vadia – 2
• Nobody, not a single person, was ready to come and work in the vadia village!!
Vadia is a bad place and its people are notorious, no decent man should enter the village, there are all possibilities that one shall be looted if he enters the village – was the image people have had about this village. There was a stigma associated with this place and its dwellers. Hence no individuals or agencies were prepared to come and work in this village. The small hill needed to be levelled ignored to begin construction but no one was ready to lend their JCB for the purpose, no one was ready to listen to us. Atlast an individual fro Siddhpur, who we knew as well managed for the JCB but we had to pay double the market cost. No tractors would come, no masons were prepared all the work done was after lot of cajoling and double the cost and that too only when Vicharta Samuday Samarthan Manch – VSSM’s Shardaben remained present in the village. Building 89 homes proved to be a herculean task for us.
• What is the need to construct the road to Vadia , the government authorities would argue!!
Our quest of how to make Vadia a better place and give its residents what they deserve as citizens of this country required continuous efforts and inputs. Every month the district Collector Shri. Hareet Shukla called and chaired meetings of various departments to find solutions to the pressing socio-economic issues of Vadia. Majority of the officers would attend these meetings with a preconditioned mindset: nothing can be done and nothing should be done in this village was their approach. When we proposed construction of road to the village they said, “what is the need? if you’ll make road it would give an easy access to people to to reach Vadia, the situation will go bad to worse!!” We argued, “if a road comes up the villagers will go out, will interact with other people, will get to know the world beyond Vadia. They’ll understand what it is to have a normal life. They shall have access to public transport and reprieve from the monopolised fares that private transport providers demand. Low fares means they’ll prefer going out more. Presently, the community members do not go out unless necessary, bad road becomes a hazard during some medical emergency especially for pregnant women. They are forced to pay extremely high prices for this commute. Because the women of this village are into flesh trade does not mean they should be denied access to some of the most basic amenities. We are a democratic nation and every citizen has a right to live with dignity.”
Vadia was treated as some gangrened society, and as it with the gangrenous body part authorities and society looked forward to chopping it out from the system. Efforts for their inclusion in the society were none so far.
During one of the meeting the collector inquired, “will these families be interested in doing some alternate occupation?”
He directed the District Rural Development Agency to sanction loans to these families to help them start their own business. “Saheb, these families do not feature in BPL list, so they aren’t eligible for any assistance,” replied an official.
“The women here sell themselves to survive, what more do you want from them to feature in a BPL list?”
Later te collector inquired on the type of ration cards these families have – APL was the reply. He asked the officials of the civil supplies to begin the process of issuing Antoday ration cards to them whereas the Rural Development Agency was asked to begin the process of including the names of these families in the BPL list and process vocational loans for them.
Antyoday Ration cards were issued, road form Vadgaum to Vadia was constructed, a bore well to facilitate agriculture was installed because without irrigation facility cultivating the land given by government was impossible as the region is arid and drought prone. Government had installed two bore wells but since power bills weren’t paid the supply to one was discontinued while the other was rendered non-functional because of a land slide after the earthquake. We arranged for the pending bill to be paid and restart the bore well. The situation has eased a bit, the need for second bore-well hasn’t reduced though.
All these efforts ranged from 2006 to 2011. VSSM received support from many of its well-wishers and donors, notable being respected Shri. Chandrakantbhai Gogri. VSSM’s founder member, trustee and our very dear friend Shri. Liladhar Gada has supported towards installation of bore-well ( as such does by government but purchase of quality pipes, motor etc.) and construction of homes in Vadia. The long pending power bill was paid by Gujarat Sarvoday Mandal.
Thus heralding a gradual but consistent change in the ground realities of Vadia with all the efforts started from 2006 to 2011 at Vadia by VSSM.