Palahi was much the Archetypal Punjab Village. But today, it is not only boasts of a free Internet Service but also has a Community Hall, Solar Lighting and Brick Lined Streets. And in what must be a first the people have set up their own Biogas plants to convert manure into power.
If allowed we can even generate electricity and provide power to other districts", gushed a villager.
Palahi is what it is today because Seven Villagers dared to dream. In the early Eighties they set the National Rural Development Society, and NGO that has transformed the lives of the 3,800 inhabitants. The Internet service is provided by the National Institute for Integrated Rural Development and Transfer of Technology,which is run by the NGO. Thanks to it, Palahi is the only village in the state where solar lighting and in door toilets are common.
There are plans to construct an under ground sewage system as well. But the government is yet to accede to the villagers request to make The road linking them to the nearest town motorable. Within the village the government main trainee road is in a pitiable condition. On the other hand, the lanes and bylanes constructed by the people,though brick lined are in excellent condition. Trees are being planted as part of a scheme pay for the and sapling in memory of their relatives. While NRI funds have played a major role in making Palahi India's most hi-tech village, the driving force has been local initiative. The institute channeled the NRI money for development programmes.
We have allowed the
panchayat also to use the funds we receive from former residents, who are living abroad now has the money been directly deposited with the panchayat, it would have required the block development officer's signature to use it, leading to delays. This way we can use the money immediately for any development work
The institute employees a chartered accountant and says its accounts are an open book. The NGO has been so effective that villagers claim that a rupee spent by the institute does more than two opon by the government. But the villagers are cut up with the administration for not expending a helping hand. "They don't do anything. At best, they create problems. Look at the road to Phagwara. It has been dug up, obstensibly to lay pipes linking the town to a sewage treatment plant near the village as part of the Sutlej Action Plan. The plan seems to have been mothballed, and the road remains like that,full of craters the would do the moon proud," one of them rued. The administration has turned down the villagers' request to fund 50 per cent of the under ground sewage project. Undeterred, the institute's founder, Jagat Singh Plahi, has gone abroad to scour for funds. The villagers have now asked the government to provide expartise, not funds. Palahi's NRI sons provided Rs 32 lakh of the Rs 35 lakh spent for the community hall, which can seat 1,100 people. The village has a stadium as well. The funds continue to pour in and the institute ensures that its activities are directed at the well being of the villagers. By promoting a to the conventional septic tank, it has ensured that almost every house has a toilet. It has helped install water tanks in over 80 schools, apart from solar heaters at various places. A wing of the institute functions as a polytechnic, imparting training to over 1,400 students every year.