A Maharashtra government official remains rooted to his village and people, undertaking a host of development projects in an endevour to improve their lives, reports Sudhir Suryawanshi
MAHARASHTRA: Amol Patankar, under-secretary with the Maharashtra government and currently the Official on Special Duty (OSD) in deputy chief minister’s office in Mumbai does not remember the last time he spent weekends with his family in Mumbai. They spend their weekends 550 km away in their village, Kondavali in Wasim district in an endevour to bring the positive change.
Amol Patankar says he cannot sever the ‘umbilical cord’ that joins him to his village and its people. “After getting an important position at the bureaucracy, I always wanted to give something back to society. My life has improved but what about our home; it still needs care and attention. So, with some like-minded friends, I started a small NGO, ‘Arunavati Multipurpose Trust’, with the aim of undertaking development projects around our village and adjoining areas.”
Earlier, Kondavali, where Patankar was born and raised, was not connected to a main road. “With aid from local administration, we have developed the pakka road; now all government buses come to our village. This has greatly facilitated many students, particularly girls, whose numbers in higher education have increased,” Patankar said.
“We even widened the river flowing by the village and constructed check dams at different places across it. It helped to store excessive rain water and as a result, the groundwater table significantly increased. We developed 60 river shafts in the Aruna river, each around 300 meter deep. During summers, women from our village were forced to walk four to eight kilometers to get the water. But the river rejuvenation project helped to end water woes,” Patankar said.
They planted trees along the river, developing a natural riverfront. “In the past, several bird species had vanished from the area, but this river project and planting of indigenous trees revived the flora and fauna. Earlier, our river used to flow only during monsoon, sometimes till winter, but in summer it was completely dry. The river rejuvenation project has changed the scenario. Everyone in our village is happy and actively participating in planned project work as well,” Patankar added.
Patankar said that he will soon start a 50 beds hospital in the area. “Health is one crucial area that needs a lot of work. People cannot visit doctors even when they are suffering from serious ailments. The main reason is the cost of healthcare; besides most of the hospitals are in big cities. People cannot travel that far. So initially a 50 bed hospital will be started and later it will be turned into a 100 bed hospital,” Patankar said.
Patankar is also committed to the security of the village and its inhabitants. “We have installed CCTV cameras in all major locations in the village. The funds were provided by the government. Installation of CCTV cameras has reduced theft and illicit activities around the village. Women feel safe now with the CCTV cameras,” Patankar added.
And what does future hold for Kondavali? “We are also planning to develop a water foundation. Our vision is to develop our place as spiritual and commercial tourist destinations. We are starting commercial boats on Build Operate and Transfer basis on the riverfront and old spiritual haunts are being rebuilt with modern facilities,” Patankar answers.