It is the business end of April in Maharashtra, the summer is at its peak and perspiration levels are high, but that didn’t prove to be a dampener for the volunteers geared up with high levels of motivation to devote their time and efforts at ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’.
Conventional thought has it, that Social Responsibility is only restricted to the government, large corporates and international organizations. But today with the active involvement of youth, common citizens and non-profit organizations, the horizon has widened and hence Social Responsibility has become the earnest prerogative of all these stakeholders. This very idea of a collaborative approach and combined Social Responsibility was the underlying thought to conceptualize Sahabhag – Social Responsibility Cell of the Govt. of Maharashtra, an initiative of the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s Office.
Sahabhag strives to facilitate innovative multi-stakeholder collaboration between government, corporates, citizens, international organizations and even media to ensure that development efforts address the critical problems, reach the target beneficiaries in a focused manner for larger impact and swifter development of the state. As an ode to this idea and to uphold this premise of joint Social Responsibility, ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’ was a unique volunteering activity organized by Sahabhag, for common citizens to come forward and do their ‘Shramdaan’ for the welfare and development of our rural brothers and sisters. ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’ was held from 28-30th April 2018 at Pathardi Gram Panchayat in Jawhar which is a tribal-dominated taluka (block) of Palghar district. With the leadership of Sahabhag, support from Palghar Collector Office, financial assistance from Tata Motors, a dedicated team of 50 volunteers from all walks of life joined forces to positively impact the lives of tribals. The dedicated volunteers undertook the following categories of activities:
- Increasing water storage capacity of the ‘water-scarce’ Dongarpada village through de-silting of the bund (CNB)
- Conduct household surveys, raise awareness and make available all the information of individually applicable Government schemes through the strategically designed ‘MahaLabharthi’ portal
- Painting of Anganwadi to refurbish the walls with social messages and a better learning experience for the tribal children
- Distribution of 700+ notebooks and stationary kits to tribal students donated by Tata Consultancy Services
On the first day, there were briefing and ice breaking sessions organized to familiarize the volunteers with each other. To give the volunteers a feel of rural and especially tribal culture, there was a traditional music and dance session planned, which was performed by the tribal folk artists from the tribal communities of Palghar district.
The next day, volunteers set out in the fields in groups to begin with the planned activities. They were ably supported by the district administration, Sarpanch and other Gram Panchayat members. Upon seeing the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers, as many as 100 villagers stepped up, came forward and joined hands to work dedicatedly for common good.
As observed over time, the hill tribes have generally preferred to keep to themselves by living in small villages nestled in mountains, but at ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’ they not only came forward to work with us, but accepted us with open arms, sat down together during breaks and regaled us with tribal melodies while considering us as one of their 'own'. The feeling was surreal and very overwhelming for all the volunteers and team members seeing this love and affection. The various challenges faced by the Sahabhag team and volunteers seemed all worth it, upon seeing the sight of ‘Happy and Smiling Villagers’, keeping aside their problems of water shortage and working towards this joint dream of ‘Water Abundance’.
Such was the momentum that was built by ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’, that a Part-II was organized, a fortnight later. Seeing the enthusiasm of the volunteers and considering the milestones achieved in the first outing, team Sahabhag was able to gather double the number of volunteers the second time with even more vigour and motivation in their hearts.
The results of the ‘Shramdaan’ are heartening to see as approximately 52 lakh litres of groundwater will be recharged benefitting the wells in the vicinity, along with an additional storage capacity of 10,57,285 litres of surface water during monsoon, which is equivalent to the capacity of 1,762 water tankers. This enhanced storage capacity created by water conservation efforts of the volunteers at ‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’, would prove to be a boon for the villagers in the post monsoon months.
Also, around 100 villager’s details were collected by volunteers through door to door surveys conducted under the MahaLabharthi campaign. These villagers will benefit by getting customized information about the various government schemes applicable to them.
On the penultimate day after a sumptuous lunch of authentic tribal cuisine prepared by the women of Self Help Groups, the volunteers were felicitated with certificates by Shri. Eknath Dawale, IAS, Secretary, Water Conservation Department and Dr. Prashant Narnaware, IAS, Collector, Palghar District.
‘Shramotsav @ Pathardi’ is a tremendous step in the direction of ‘Participative Governance’, which has been the central theme of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri. Devendra Fadnavis’s mandate of good governance. It was nothing short of pure inspiration to see the villagers and volunteers working hand in hand towards social good.
It is this paradigm shift in Social Responsibility which has ensured participation from more and more common citizens together with the government towards creating a healthy, happy and developed state. We look forward to welcoming you at many such activities in the future, where people join hands for holistic and sustainable development of Maharashtra.