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Naxal bastion, Malkapur, turns model village

The very mention of this village used to send shivers down the spine of officials and police personnel till a decade-and-a-half ago.

Eight kms from Toopran mandal headquarters, it was the most backward village not because of its location but due to the presence of naxal activity. People’s War Group cadres would frequent the village exhorting the people to fight for their rights and not to hesitate to wage a battle against the government. Officials and local legislator would think twice before visiting the village.

Villagers suffered due to lack of development, so much so there was no BT road, residents faced severe drinking water crisis and education was a casualty. Villagers frustrated with the prevailing situation looked to ‘Annalu’’ (PWG cadres) for guidance and help.

“The Durga Devi Temple in the village used to be meeting place for naxals to address us. We were asked to confront officials if the grievances were not redressed. Doing the rounds of government offices did not yield any result. Malkapur suffered for years,” recalled Pallepati Mahankali, a former Dalam commander of the PWG.

In a role reversal, the same former PWG cadres along with the youth are in the forefront of development of the village. With a population of 2,059 comprising 502 households, Malkapur today is turning into a model village for neighbouring hamlets and habitations.

All this was possible when Medak Collector D. Ronald Rose chose to visit Malkapur on August 25 last year as part of Grama Jyothi programme and adopted it. Initially, people were sceptical about the whole concept and evinced little interest.

This left the Collector disappointed so much so that he warned them that he would be compelled to adopt some other village.

The turn around came when the youth associations saw an opportunity to see their village make rapid strides. They were right, if the observation of Pitla Karunakar, a post-graduate in Commerce is any indication.

“We were impressed by the interest shown by the Collector to improve our living condition. We used to hear in our childhood about naxalites visiting us and holding meetings. In contrast, we saw the officials showing their willingness to do something. How could we miss such an opportunity?” he said.

In the first gram sabha held in August, seven committees with five members each to handle water, sanitation, education, health, social security, natural resources, agriculture and infrastructure were formed.

The first priority was to construct Individual House Hold Latrines for each house. Out of 502 household, only 161 household had toilets and open defecation was common. Concerted efforts of officials particularly the Toopran Mandal Parishad Development Officer Srinivas Rao paved the way for construction IHHL for every house.

“Construction of toilets was a Herculean task. People were not willing to use it. To tackle the problem, village committee members got up at 5 am every day and kept a vigil at identified open defecation places. The efforts paid dividend and by December last, Malkapur became open defecation free village,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao told The Hindu .