PUNE: Over 1,200 sarpanches from across Maharashtra participated in ‘Sarpanch Sansad (SS),’ a conclave to discuss rural development, organised by MIT WPU campus on Sunday.
“Rural development doesn’t just mean good roads, water or uninterrupted power supply. One can say that rural development has happened only when the rural areas become financially independent,” said Padmashri and agricultural scientist Subhash Palekar, during the inaugural function of the event.
“Rural development will take place in the true sense when the money of the village stays in the village itself. If the farmer buys shoes, tractors, seeds, fertilizers, clothes, etc, from outside the villages, the money he spends goes out of the village and in the coffers of someone else,” said Palekar.
Narendra Jadhav, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, Medha Kulkarni, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Maharashtra, Chandrakant Dalvi, Divisional Commissioner, Pune, Shyam Deshpande, former additional divisional commissioner, Pune, Rahul Karad, Executive President, MIT World Peace University, were also present along with other dignitaries on the occasion. Palekar further said that rural populace must refrain from using chemical-laced fertilizers for their crop. “They do more harm to the crop than what we think they contribute. Water bodies are damaged and polluted due to the harmful elements released out of these genetic seeds and fertilizers. The sarpanches present here should also make attempts to directly sell the farm products to end customers and not through middlemen, who are there only to fleece,” he said.
Narendra Jadhav, in his address, said, “The responsibility of building a nation is through making the villages self-sufficient and that responsibility lies with the sarpanch. With the latest reforms and policy of the Finance Commission, larger funds are expected to be allocated to the local independent bodies. The sarpanches have to take full benefit of the Central and State government’s schemes.”
Chandrakant Dalvi said, “Today we are seeing a situation of ‘Brain Drain’ in the villages. A few decades ago, 70 per cent of the total population was settled in the villages. Today, that has shrunk to 45 per cent. If we provide ample facilities and opportunities in villages itself, people will not like to relocate to bigger cities. All the sarpanches should make an attempt to reach out to all those fellow villagers and make an appeal to them to return and help in rural development.”
Findings and representations from this Sarpanch Sansad would be sent to the Central and State governments for policy formulation.