Ralegan Siddhi is a village in Parner taluka of Ahmednagar District, Maharashtra state in western India. It is located at a distance of 87 km from Pune. The village has an area of 982. 31 ha (1991). It is considered a model of environmental conservation. The village has carried out programs like tree planting, terracing to reduce soil erosion and digging canals to retain rainwater. For energy, the village uses solar power, biogas (some generated from the community toilet) and a windmill.

The project is heralded as a sustainable model of a village republic. The village’s biggest accomplishment is in its use of non-conventional energy. For example, all the village street lights each have separate solar panels. [2] The village is headed by a Sarpanch who is the chief of the Gram Panchayat (village panchayat). Watershed development In 1975 the village was afflicted by drought, poverty prevailed, and trade in illicit liquor was widespread. The village tank could not hold water as the embankment dam wall leaked. Work began with the percolation tank construction.

Hazare encouraged the villagers to donate their labour to repair the embankment. Once this was fixed, the seven wells below filled with water in the summer for the first time in memory. [4] Now the village has water year round, as well as a grain bank, a milk bank, and a school. There is no longer any poverty. [5] Model village The World Bank Group has concluded that the village of Ralegan Siddhi was transformed from a highly degraded village ecosystem in a semi-arid region of extreme poverty to one of the richest in the country.

The Ralegan Siddhi example, now 25 years old, by demonstrating that it is possible to rebuild natural capital in partnership with the local economy, is a model for the rest of the country. [6] Anna Hazare Indian social activist Anna Hazare, Sarpanch of the village, is accredited to help in the development of the village. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan—the third-highest civilian award—by the Government of India in 1992 for his efforts in establishing this village as a model for others.

We have all read about suicides in Vidharbha, crushing poverty in the villages of the nation. But here is the story of a village, that is truly a testimony of The Better India. Hiware Bazar, situated in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra is India’s model village. The village with the highest GDP in the country. Ensconced in the rain shadow area of the Sahyadari range , Hiware Bazar faced an acute water crisis and severe land degradation during the 1970s. Each resident of Hiware Bazar village earns almost double of most of the country’s rural population.

Throughout the 1980s, the village had a rain fed farming situation which resulted in limited seasonal agriculture and forced the farmers to migrate to surrounding towns and cities for work. The village therefore was deprived of its sole source of income – agriculture and the inhabitants turned to local liquor production and selling, giving rise to criminal activities. Hiware Bazar Village Before Developmental Initiatives Driven by a desire to improve the condition of the village, Popatrao Baguji Pawar came back to the village from Ahmednagar. In 1990, he won the elections and became the sarpanch.

From there began the transformation of Hiware Bazar. A five pronged approach has been adopted for the socio-economic infrastructure of the village that includes : 1. Free labour 2. Ban on Grazing 3. Ban on Tree Cutting 4. Ban on Liquor 5. Family Planning Shramdan has inculcated a work culture among the local people, making Hiware Bazar a model for community development. Ban of grazing ; cutting trees has tremendously increased the production of grass and reforestation. Due to the family planning programme (One Family One Child) , the birth rate has been brought down to 11 per thousand.

The Hiware Bazar Gram Sabha instituted a watershed development programme and imposed a complete ban on water intensive cultivation like sugarcane, banana. Since 2004, Hiware Bazar has been conducting an annual water audit, measuring the total availability of water. Hiware Bazar after development Hiware Bazar is now reaping the economic benefits of the developmental schemes. Each village resident earns almost double of most of the country’s rural population. As a result 32 families that had earlier migrated to nearby urban areas of Mumbai ; Pune have come back.

The process of social integration has led to the formation of Women Thrift groups, Milk Dairy Society, Youth Clubs, Common crematorium facility and numerous other co-operatives. Now they are going to start the Hiware Bazar brand for selling their local produce. Panchayat : Powers ; Functions Tikekarwadi is a tiny village at the foothills of Sahyadri mountains about 120 kms from Pune near Ozar Ashthavinayak pilgrimage. Hurdles: Tikekarwadi was another ordinary village unlike 28,000 villages of Maharashtra facing different problems, but since last 3 years this village has transformed drastically from worst to best.

There was severe water contamination as the river flowing adjacent to this village gets polluted with sewage water of Ozar pilgrim centre. Being near the Sahyadri foothills the rainfall is above average and with four dams like Kukdi, Yedgaon, Chilewadi and Pimpalgaon Jogai. There is irrigation through out the year. With proper irrigation, farmers have been cultivating crops like sugarcane, onions, banana, grapes and all types of green vegetables and over-application of fertilizers and pesticides since past so many decades contaminated soils and polluted water bodies, like ponds and wells.

The turbidity level in water has increased and all this resulted in suffering of locals with water borne diseases. Apart from water borne diseases, Tikekarwadi also faced continuous load shedding. Although Maharashtra government has interlinked 28,000 gram panchayats in the state via computers through the Sangram scheme but due to load shedding villagers of Tikekarwadi had to travel to taluka place to get their land records. Cutting of trees for cooking and especially for hot water was resulting in deforestation. Its low population rate added another problem.

To avail government finance schemes a village needs to have population over 10,000, the population of this small village is around 1,200 which disqualified it from government schemes. As the voting ratio is low elected representatives had reason to neglect the development work of Tikekarwadi. Turnaround: Since 1975 when this village was formed as a fall out from Ozar gram panchayat, it has not seen any election. Every yar the sarpanch is chosen unanimously. Three years ago a 25-year-old youth Santosh Tikekar was chosen as sarpanch.

Santosh who is an ITI pass out was into sand mining and he use to get government contracts for excavating sand from the adjacent river. His work experience had made him well verse with the functioning of state government machinery. Santosh who was fed up of the wrong practices left the sand excavation business and devoted all his time in the development work for the betterment of his village. Along with few youths of his age, Santosh the newly chosen sarpanch (headman) started his way to tap for government schemes and financial aid but initially returned empty handed.

But with consistent efforts, determination they succeeded in convincing the reluctant government officers at Nabard – National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development to pump in Rs. 6 lakh to set up RO water treatment plant for the village worth Rs. 16 lakh, the villagers contributed Rs. four lakh and with donations from an NGO and some discount the company manufacturing unit the RO plant was setup, the first step towards healthy life was ray of hope for the villagers who had to consume contaminated drinking water for many years.

With reverse osmosis plant villagers now get 25 liters of healthy drinking water for Rs. 5 and the collected money is used for the maintenance and salary of the village youth who has the responsibility to take care of the water treatment plant. With good health of all the villagers young and old, came in enthusiasm to walk that extra mile for betterment of their village, now the villagers under the leadership of their young surpanch have taken a oath that is not to any village quarrels to court or police stations and so they have succeeded in establishing ‘tanta mukt village’ – which mean village free from quarrels.

Load shedding problem was solved with a donation from a private company for a mini wind mill that generated 1 kilowatts of electricity enough to light the panchayat office, the village street lights and the panchayat computer. With enough electricity to run the computer, Tikekarwadi is now connected to 28,000 villages through-out Maharashtra and now villagers get their land records at the click of the computer keyboard.

Deforestation was stopped to a large extent as 80 per cent of the village has installed solar water heaters and solar panels with 30 per cent subsidy from government and 10 per cent discount from the company. Positive approach: People of this small place live in harmony, they work with integrity, the elders of this place preach and practice the Gandhian values, youngsters respect elders and at the same time try to learn new things, new ways of approaching life and over coming hurdles.

Having a small aim in life is a crime. So think big and work with integrity that’s the advice of former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam. This village believes and follows the four important principles of life – then have a goal, they continuously acquire knowledge, they work hard, they have perseverance and they have learnt to manage time. In day to day village activity and in taking important developmental decisions, the males make it a point to call for a gram sabha and seek full participation of the women members.

The villagers of Tikekarwadi have also passed a resolution in the gram-sabha that the no villager will sell his or her land to person outside village and this has stopped the exploitation of innocent villagers who many a times are duped by fraudulent people. This place has one more innovative thing, they have established one temple which also serves as community hall. All the small temples were brought to this one temple and this has increased the brotherhood amongst the villagers.

Women of this village also practise ‘padkayi’ which means all the women voluntarily contribute in working in each farm in groups so that there is no need to hire labourers from outside. Projects in hand: Biogas electricity generation plant is under construction, with financial aid from and once operational, it will generate enough bio-gas to be supplied all the house hold and also run a generator to produce 20 kilo watt of electricity and this bio-gas electricity will light all the houses as well as street lights. This will reduce their dependency of the Maharashtra electricity board for electricity.

Tikekarwadi villagers also have a project report for a hydro electricity generation, blessed with a 40 feet water fall with water for 10 months the villagers are confidant that if implemented the village won’t have to depend on the electricity board for electricity. Achievements and awards: Nirmal Gram Puraskar, Tanta Mukt Gaon Puraskar, Paryavaran Santulik Samruth Gaon (Eco Village) consistently for three years, Parywaran Vikas Ratna, Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha from central government. Sant Gadgebaba Gram Swachhata Abhiyaan. Yashwant Panchyat Raj Abhiyaan. First prize in state as well as Pune district.