That is Jayapur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s model village in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. The prime minister has also adopted a second village, Nagepur in the constituency.
That might be one village too many! For, the fact is, less than two years after that flurry of ‘development’ in Jayapur, it all seems like one step forward and two steps back.
Jayapur was all over the news in November 2014, when the PM selected it to develop it under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (MP model village plan).
With a population of about 4,500 and roughly 3,000 voters, the village became the focus of the district administration. Pipelines were laid for water supply, street lights were installed, bio-toilets were set up and roads were laid.
But all that has all come to naught.
The fact is villagers curse the new road. The four-kilometre-long stretch was laid out in March of 2015. However, such was the quality of work that it was washed away by the first monsoon it faced. Today, it’s no more than a rutted path.
People say there have been several accidents on the bumpy road. They had to stage a protest to demand that the road be set right.
Another facet of the ‘Jayapur development’—setting up of toilets to check open defecation—too has fallen flat on its face.
Modi had highlighted his sanitation goal for the country in his maiden speech from the Red Fort on Independence Day. In line with that, toilets were built in 400 houses in Jayapur, which was by any reckoning a good step.
Is it a success? Did it stop people from defecating in the open in the PM’s model village?
“That’s the story of the Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM) in Jayapur. Nearly two years after the launch of the programme, the PM’s adopted village is still not Open-Defecation-Free (ODF), a status when achieved indicates complete toilet coverage in a village panchayat,” says the same Indian express report.
Many, if not most, residents of Jayapur hardly use the toilets anymore. “The construction is of such poor quality the toilets might collapse any time. The plaster is peeling, there is neither electricity nor water in these toilets,” said Prem Shankar Singh, a farmer. “A soak pit was built with each toilet as the village doesn’t have a sewerage network. The soak pits in many houses are full, which has rendered them unusable.”
Apart from building toilets in each home, 16 bio-toilets were brought to be installed in public places in Jayapur. Of them, only eight have been set up.
“Today, they are being used only to store firewood or cow dung cakes,” said Vishwanath Patel, a resident of Jayapur. “Nobody here knows about the maintenance of these toilets. People are not comfortable with these modern toilets, they stick to the old habit of defecating in the open.”
High and Dry
A lack of running water supply is another reason villagers forego the use of these toilets. The villagers were elated when work to lay pipelines and build an overhead water tank started.
With time, however, the euphoria faded. The tank is ready, but the work to lay the pipelines stopped mid-way. Now, the villagers have no clue when and if the water supply network will be ready.
During the makeover phase, three bore-wells were drilled. “But the submersible pump was stolen from one of the borewell, the other two haven’t functioned for many months as there is no diesel to power the pumps,” said a villager who does not want to be identified.
Even when the pumps were working, they ceased to be of much help as the pipes that connected the borewells to homes were of low quality. Leakages and breakages started surfacing and the villagers took the matter to district magistrate Vijay Kiran Anand.
The situation is the same when it comes to the supply of electricity. Wiring work was carried out in every home and each home was given two LED bulbs. They never lit up because there is no electricity to power them.
Two solar power plants were set up in the village. They stopped working within a year. The Union Bank of India, which set up a branch in the village, installed 30 street lights but the batteries of almost all of them have been stolen.
Village heads blame “some miscreants” for stealing the batteries. They also say the bio-toilets were also being vandalized by the same group, who were against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Jayapur sarpanch Narayan Patel said nearly Rs. 50 crore must have been spent on the development of the village.
He said a private company had done most of the development work in the village. CR Patil, a Member of Parliament from Gujarat, and a close aide of Modi, was given the charge of monitoring the works.
Rajesh Patel, a resident of Jayapur, said the villagers held no grudge against Modi, but are upset with his representatives.
“Instead of ensuring quality, they are content with overseeing a whitewash. Roads that were washed off should be re-laid. The village needs a college, and a drainage system,” said Patel.
For all that, Jayapur stands out among all villages in Varanasi parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“While the rest of the villages hardly get 5-6 hours of electricity, Jayapur’s residents get as much as 12-14 hours of electricity in a day, thanks to two 25 KV solar panels installed by a private company,” said the Indian Express report.
Besides, the village will soon have a school for girls, free Wi-Fi and tailoring centres for women. The Dalit population in the village is minuscule but they have benefitted from the Atal Awas Yojana thanks to the village’s status as the PM’s model village.
The two banks and the post office are also a saving grace. Residents of Jayapur now do not have to travel out to make bank transactions or post a letter.
A BSNL tower has connected the village to the cellular network, and five aanganwadi centres have been welcomed with open arms.
A section of the farmers are grateful that with the PM adopting the village they have been able to avail the fasal bheema yojna. But they demand more, like a ‘Vetan Ayog’ in line with similar commissions for other sections of the population, says a media report.
Regardless, the main demand of Jayapur is employment, jobs! Village youth do not want to be farmers. The problem, however, there is no other source of employment. Villagers are clamouring for the PM to help the youth get employment opportunities.
To conclude, while declaring that he was choosing Jayapur as his model village, the PM said it was not he who was adopting the village, but it was the village that was adopting him! Many villagers now wonder what happened to that affinity.
Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow based independent journalist and a senior member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters.