Making a Difference: ‘the story of ozakho village panchyat ’ -by Nyatum Doke. This story is not the story of the grand victory or of the grand success; but this is the story of ‘a beginning’ of ‘an initiation’ of ‘a hope’, of the zeal and of the ‘determination’ to make a difference, however small it is. Ozakho, a remote village under Chubam circle and is 25KM away from Longding HQ is not some usual village.
As one enters the village in addition to the lush green valleys; one can see a series of locally made bamboo dustbin throughout the stretches of the village. The village is one of the cleanest and has received certificates of appreciation from the District Administration for its various efforts and initiatives. What differentiates this village from any other village is the young and visionary leader the Gram Panchayat Chairperson Wangjem Wangsu- who is passionate to bring positive change in the village.
Wangjem is not a highly educated person he has studied till class 10; “due to family responsibilities after the demise of his mother he could not continue studies, which I sometimes regret” he said. However, his education never came on the way of his determination to do something for the society. On being asked why did you joined politics he told “I never intended to join politics but I always wanted to do something for the society specially my village, it makes me feel good and gives me inner peace”.
His efforts can be gauged from the fact that Ozakho is the first villages to get 100 percent covid vaccination coverage in the district. Then it also achieved the feat of being the first village with 100 percent tap water coverage under Jal Jeevan Mission. To add, the village is also covered 100 percent under CMAAY scheme. He said govt comes up with so many schemes for the benefit of the people and as a leader it is my duty to ensure that my people get most out of these schemes’’. Apart from these the village have been taking up some initiatives which are worth emulating for other villages and the panchayat.
The village has formed a Cleanliness committee with 50 members, they ensure that social service and cleanliness activities are carried out every weekend. Also, within the premises of the village plastics are band and resolutions have been passed to not use plastic disposables Instead bamboo glass and traditional wild leaf to be used. Also, he said that they have conceptualized a concept of yearly “Dustbin Day”, during this day “each family will make two bamboo dustbins, one will be donated to the committee and other will be installed in their household” he told.
Furthermore, the panchayat in order to maintain the ecological balance have taken several measures towards sustainable livelihood the they are strictly against Hunting and killing of wild animals, they have passed a resolution to ban any kind of hunting and killing of wild animals. He narrated that on many instances the paddy fields of the village were destroyed by the insects later they get to know from the experts that these particular were supposed to be eaten by the birds. But sadly “the birds no longer exist” he exclaimed sadly.
In addition, Unsustainable fishing through bombing and generator is also prohibited in Ozakho village. Felling of trees for commercial purpose is also banned by the villagers. If at all they have to cut a tree for some personal usage the resolution says “in place of one tree you have to plant two”. Then, in this village Drug/Opium Addicts are not allowed to take leadership position in any social political or religious organizations- the villagers are strictly against any form of addiction, even the commercial sale of local wine is prohibited.
One will wonder for such efforts where the village is getting the fund from? The answer is that the villagers under the leadership of the GPC has started a Poultry farm which at present has more than 300 no of chickens and it has already started to generate money. Also, the village water and sanitation committee of the village has fixed water tariff at Rs 50/- per month “already Rs 63500 /- fund have been generated” Wangjem proudly stated. The money a collected are kept in panchayat account and is used for various developmental activities of the villages whenever the need arises.
On being enquired about the fund he said “for now the fund they the panchayat is receiving is less as it is based on the old population census of 2011, according to which the population is about 500 but, now the panchayat has population of more than 1000, hopefully with the new census the issues will be resolved”.
He further said “with the love and blessing of the people of the village and the support of the govt hope fully I will fulfil my dream of making the village a model village one day.” More enriching training and awareness programs for the PRI leaders under SIRD&PR should be conducted- the training at Sikkim provided by SIRD&PR was an eye opener for me and many others” he added
I hope the story of the initiatives taken by Wangjem and the villagers will continue and further reverberate to inspire others to take small steps and make a difference.
(The writer is DIPRO Longding)