In an unprecedented show of solidarity and courage women elected representatives of Negheriting Gaon Panchayats of Kakodonga Block under Golaghat district of Assam, has come forward to take over the responsibility of food security and local governance in the Panchayat. In a meeting held at Neghariting Borline Namghar from 11 AM on 8th of June 2010, around 35 community leaders gathered in the venue including Ms. Rupali Rabidas, President, Neghariting GP, Ms. Mina Kumari Das, Zilla Parishad Member, Ward members, local ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, Fare Price shop owners and Gaon Panchayat Samabai Samati members.
Tasaduk Ariful Hussain, an individual fellow of Foundation for Social Transformation (FST), facilitated the meeting and discussed the salient provisions of the food security schemes like mid day meal, integrated child development services, public distribution system etc. It was an eye opening opportunity for the participants to know about the provisions of the schemes. It was realized, that mid-day meal in the schools of the Panchayat is not working as per the provisions. The ICDS program and the Anganwadi centre here is pretty new to this Panchayat, hence they expressed their understanding on the required initial settling time of the initiatives.
Regarding the PDS, the community members realized that they are paying more and getting fewer amounts of fare price commodities at present. Antodaya Anna Yojana card holders are getting only 32 KGs of rice per month in place of 35 KGs. At the same time they are paying Rs. 4/- per KG of rice in place of Rs. 3/- as their entitlement. The BPL and APL cardholders’ situation are also similar. No families in the Panchayat are getting Kerosene, Atta, Sugar etc in a regular basis.
The facilitator also discussed about the status of NREGA in the state in general and Neghariting Panchayat in particular. The participants could realize for the first time that they could apply for the job under the NREGA at any point of time as per their requirement. So far the system was such that they get the NREGA work only when BDO confirms that there is work under NREGA and job cardholders could apply for it.
The participants of the meeting unanimously decided to take following actions for the improvement of the Panchayat.
1. All the ward members of the Panchayat will survey and list all the school going and out of school children between the age group of 6 to 14. Subsequently, it will be consolidated to form a village education register. The Panchayat representatives will put pressure on the guardians of the out of school children to ensure 100% enrollment in the Panchayat
2. A team of community members, including ward members and GP president will visit all the primary school of the Panchayats once in a week to supervise the mid-day-meal implementation and check the teachers’ and students’ attendance.
3. Such another team will also supervise the activities of new Anganwadi Centre in the Panchayat along with ensuring proper nutrition supplementation, health checkup and referral services to the children below 6 years, pregnant women and lactatic mothers. It will also supervise the preschool and play school of the Anganwadi centre.
4. Community members will file an application under RTI to understand the rate and amount of commodities supplied to the Panchayat every month to keep a track on the actual situation.
Ms. Junu Bora, editor of the magazine ‘Junaki Bat’ also participated in the meeting and appreciated the women power to turn around the development paradigm in the sta