At Gram Panchayat Khachrod Public assistance and information Centre known as Soochana kendra has been opened since the past six months covering five Panchayats. This is 67 kilometers away from Sehore district headquarter where communities face problem in commutation. At Panchayat level a person has been identified named Soochna mitra as information friend.
At Bapcha panchayat of the same district Soochna Mitra- Santosh kumar provides information and guides any needy person without any social prejudices. He is only high school pass but is intensively and regularly in contact with the community. The Soochana Mitra facilitates receiving of information by the community either provided directly by him or community people reaching information Centre for getting a solution to their problem.
At panchayat level the Soochana Mitra met Rozgar Sahayak so the names of children Arun aged one year and Ayush aged three year could be added in Samagra Portal .This would facilitate availability of food grains for these children. Currently 5 kgs additional food grain(wheat) is being received by this family through the Public distribution system.In future it would also facilitate availability of various government schemes meant for scheduled caste community and education scholarships meant for these children.
Bhuri bai aged fifty years who is a Scheduled tribe and Mamta bai aged thirty two from scheduled caste were linked with Widow Pension due to lack of document viz missing death certificate of their respective husband. Samarthan organization team member facilitated the process of preparation of death certificate and an application was presented in front of the Secretary of the Panchayat and it was prepared.
Similarly Adityaa five year old boy who is differently abled has started getting his Disability Pension of rupees five hundred per month. The Samarthan team members facilitated the process of getting a certificate from officials stating the correct disability percentage otherwise earlier it was stated less hindering the availability of disability pension.
Now people approach the Soochna Mitra directly for getting information rather than wandering here and there in dismay. This process is facilitating free flow of information and acting as an catalyst in the confidence building of the community as well.
Such is a case of Astha development block of district Sehore of MadhyaPradesh,where the community is striving hard daily to earn their livelihood. Government schemes are meant for all individuals but it doesn’t reach equally to all communities specifically the marginalized and deprived communities due to lack of information. It’s like the difference between defacto and dejure rights. The social realities act as an impediment in accessing these rights.
This process has been initiated four months back only in states of Madhya Pradesh and chhatisgarh in four places-Sehore and Panna in MP, Kanker and Rajnangaon in Chhattisgarh. Ten villages of each of the four districts based on its dialogue with the community and various problem faced by them. Around 40 Panchayats of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are being benefitted from this process. This initiative was done seeing the social realities where Online information made available by the government through website and MP Online kiosks has its limited outcome. Sadly these initiatives by the government has not changed totally the situation of the rural area at the Panchayat level.
This is attributed due to various reasons such as nonworking of internet due to power shortage specifically at district places. Online shops charging arbitrary rates and there is no certainty that on the work would be done due to various reasons. Websites of government donot have adequate information such as there is updated material in English and not in Hindi. Information culling out through website sometimes being a tedious process due to the information not being placed in proper section, font problem etc. All pertinent schemes and desired documents are not available online. If we talk about the loksewa guarantee offices as well, travelling to these offices are also a constraint as they are situated at district or block level only.
Soochana kendrashave met the information gap of the poor needy and deprived communities specifically scheduled caste and scheduled tribe community people as they are being linked to various social security schemes.Soochna mitras are providing a handholding support to the community in access of information at various levels and preparing the community to fight for their rights. They are easily available and have a good rapport with the community as well.
Story of change written by Manohar(sehore team member) –Translated and edited by Sudeepa