Maharashtra govt to transform 1000 villages with corporates' help

Popatrao Pawar, the much-acclaimed former sarpanch (elected village head of a gram panchayat) who has transformed his village Hiwre-Bajar in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra into a model of rural development, is consulting the government. The state government will form a governing council headed by the chief minister and comprising all participating companies to formulate a holistic strategy for this transformation and implement it, Fadnavis told reporters after a two-hour consultation with industry heads and celebrities at Mantralaya, the government's administrative headquarters. A corpus will be made through CSR contributions, but the amount is yet to be decided.

Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and corporate heavyweights like Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Rajshri Birla and the Anil Ambani group have come forward to join the state government's scheme to develop 1,000 villages.

Appreciating the effort, Ratan Tata said that CM wanted to transform the hinterland of Maharashtra in to hinterland of prosperity and Tata trust is ready to partner with the state government in bringing this change.

Anand Mahindra of Mahindra and Mahindra articulated that, "this is extremely positive thinking of change and if f this project works then this will be an example of change before the country". "Even this time we are hoping for the same thing", said another official. "I will lend my voice and face to make people aware of this initiative", said Mr Bachchan. Amitabh Bachchan said that this he was already associated with many schemes of the government and this mission was wonderful, and that he would cooperate in every possible way for the success of this mission which can bring about transformation. "It will be a challenge both for the government and the companies to work with each other", he said.

Fadnavis added that the development activities will be based on the requirements of the village.

Under the scheme 'Participation (Sahbhag in Hindi)', the corporates will provide funds as well as expertise to improve infrastructure, education and human index to develop the villages.

He added that 50 per cent of the villages will be chosen by partnering agencies where some work is now underway and the remaining would be those villages that score low on the Human Development Index. "There are some broad areas this transformation will focus, like agriculture, water conservation, education, and health".

"25 percent of these villages will be from the tribal areas. Similarly, we have got tremendous response from others as well", he said, adding the government is looking at working on at least 100 villages by October 2.

Vanessa Coleman