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Sushma Swaraj’s Adopted Village Is Developed... On Paper

EXCLUSIVE I From hospital to school, locals in Sushma Swaraj’s adopted village complain they lack basic amenities.

Updated
India
4 min read

Video Editor: Vishal Kumar

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(Are the ‘achhe din’ here for villages adopted by PM Modi's star MPs? Watch The Quint’s ground reports from villages adopted under the 'Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana’ (SAGY)) .

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj adopted Ajnas village in her constituency Vidhisha in Madhya Pradesh in 2014 under the SAGY.

According to the village head, many development projects were approved, but not implemented. A land plot was approved to build a hospital, but till now has been no sign of construction. Toilets were built, but not enough for a village with a population of 6,000.

This is the fifth village in The Quint’s series named ‘Our MP’s Village: Achhe Din?’. We earlier reported on MP Hema Malini, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s village.

Main Objectives of SAGY?

The objective of SAGY was that MPs cater to the needs of their adopted village and work towards their holistic development. Some of the goals that MPs were to achieve under SAGY are:

  • Education facilities
  • Cleanliness
  • Health facilities
  • Skill development
  • Livelihoods
  • Basic amenities (Electricity, Pucca houses, roads, WiFi)
  • Good governance

The government kick-started the SAGY project with the goal to develop three Adarsh Grams by March 2019, of which one would be achieved by 2016.

Has Open Defecation Been Eradicated Here? Not Really

The village head claimed enough toilets have been built, hence, it is now open defecation free.

“We have built several toilets for public, Ajnas village is open-defecation free. No one goes for open defecation.”
Ishwar Singh, Sarpanch, Ajnas village 

It is true that the toilets have been built, but 90 toilets are just not enough for the population of 6,000. Even some of the new toilets are without doors, and hence unusable.

“I have no toilets at home, I have informed the sarpanch about it several times. I’ve also informed the Zila Panchayat about it. But no one heard me. My family and I go and defecate in the open.”
Babloo, Resident, Ajnas

Some villagers who were promised money to build toilets, but never got it.

“The Panchayat told us to spend money from our own pockets and start the construction. We were promised money later. We’ve spent Rs 15,000-20,000 so far, but are unable to complete it. My family and I go to the jungle to relieve ourselves. Like my family, five other families too go to the jungle. We’ve told the sarpanch several times but he doesn’t do anything.”
Sunita Bai, Resident, Ajnas 
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Four Years Later, Still Struggling With a Dysfunctional Old Hospital

Considering that the old existing hospital in Ajnas is in a deplorable condition and usually remains shut, four years ago a plot was allotted to build a new hospital in the village. But it’s been four years, and there’s been no sign of its construction so far.

“There is one old hospital. And now with didi’s (Sushma Swaraj’s) blessing a hospital project worth Rs 1.21 crore has been approved. It is named Sukrat. You can see the plot from here. Bhumi poojan has also been done. The tender has also been passed, soon construction work will start.”
Ishwar Singh, Sarpanch, Ajnas village

The old hospital has just one female nurse. The villagers travel to the nearest town for medical treatment.

“In the name of medical facility, we have one female nurse in a clinic, which is sometimes open and sometimes closed. Even childbirth cases cannot be handled here, there is no medical facility, only one doctor madam. It is closed today and most of the time it remains closed.”
Sunil Gujjar, Resident, Ajnas Village
“Due to the lack of staff, we refer them to some other hospital. Right now we have only one nurse. Early we had two medical staff.”
Ishwar Singh, Sarpanch, Ajnas village

As For a New School?

Not just the hospital, even the school has not been constructed completely.

“The school building is still under construction. It is not operational. I have been assured by the administration that it will be constructed soon. It has been under construction for almost 5 years now.”
Ishwar Singh, Sarpanch, Ajnas village

For now, the school site remains a hub for anti-social elements.

“The school classrooms have been under construction for years. There is no school boundary, which makes this place unsafe. In the evening, miscreants enter the premises and smoke. In morning we come here, clean the place, worship and then begin classes.”
Prahlad, School staff

Roads, Streetlights, Drains? Nope, Nope, Nope

Some of the roads in the village are cemented but in most places drain water is overflowing on the roads.

“If students travel to school by this road, they get scolded by the teacher because by the time they reach school their uniforms are dirty. You can see this road here, this is the main road that goes to the government and private schools. Look at this drain, which never gets cleaned.”
Resident, Ajnas

Around Rs 13 lakh was spent on the installation of streetlights. Most of them are non-functional. And those which are functional are never switched off.

“We spent Rs 13 lakh to install street lights. The contract was given to a Delhi-based company. The company was also granted annual maintenance for 5 years. The company promised me that they will come fix the issue. But till date they haven’t come.”
Ishwar Singh, Sarpanch, Ajnas village 
“There are 8-9 street lights which are non-functional. Children play in the dark.”
Santosh Kumar, Resident, Ajnas
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The villagers were promised funds by the authorities to build homes under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. But they never got it.

“They told us to build houses and promised to pay us money under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna. We built a bit of the structure with our own money but till date we haven’t gotten it back. Construction of the houses and toilets is incomplete.”
Aakash Haryala- Resident, Ajnas

(With inputs from Raees Pathan from Ajnas)

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