When Sachin Tendulkar adopted a village in Andhra Pradesh last October, he could not pronounce its name. Puttamraju Kandrika was a mouthful. After Rekha Rani, who was joint collector of Nellore, brought him to the village on November 16 last year, his efforts have had a pronounced effect on the development of the village.
Puttamraju Kandrika is home to 399 people living in 110 houses. Most of the poor villagers belong to backward castes and eke out a living by growing red chillies and acid lime.
Rani and the district collector, N. Srikant, have since been replaced by A. M. Imtiaz and M. Janaki. And, they have taken their predecessors' efforts forward. The district administration has granted Rs.3.6 crore for developing the village, and Rs.2.79 crore has come from the Local Area Development fund at the disposal of Sachin as a Rajya Sabha member. “In January, we decided to start infrastructure development with the district administration funds,” says Imtiaz. “The village has now achieved celebrity status. We have to match the hopes and expectations along with the developmental needs. The village was so backward that people used to migrate to find work. But now, after seeing the ongoing work, 25 families have returned to settle down here.”
The Nellore administration has focused on improving infrastructure, livelihoods and social aspects, and Imtiaz says this all-round focus is the reason behind the success.
The village now has an underground sewage network with a treatment plant, 24-hour water and power supply, a playground and a community hall.
The Andhra Pradesh Southern Power Distribution Company spent Rs.1.74 lakh to set up an 11KV feeder. A community centre was built with Rs.1.15 crore, an anganwadi school was built using Rs.9 lakh and a government school was set up using Rs.74 lakh. Skill development programmes were launched and Sri City, the state's new business hub, has offered jobs to 25 young men from the village. The water meters in each house and taps at the doorsteps have been a huge boon to the women.
Now, the villagers are planning to invite Sachin again and their wish list has become longer. Says sarpanch Nageshwara Rao: “We are very happy with what is happening in the village, but there are a few things we would like to ask Sachingaru when he comes to see the progress.”
For instance, villagers who don't have their own land often go out and work as daily wage labourers. Rao does not want the women to go out in search of work and wants a small-scale industry to be set up in the village.
“We grow our own lime and chillies, and I thought putting up a factory will help,” he says. “Then one person from each family will be occupied and the women need not go out of the village.”
Chief planning officer K.T. Venkaiah says the district administration has been helping to increase employment in the village. “We are looking at livelihoods,” he says. “These people need jobs more than anything.”
Rao knows that the government will withdraw once it has finished its work and the maintenance of the village will fall upon their shoulders. “We have no money for the upkeep of the village,” he says. “Sometimes, one of the street lights gets fused and we do not have the wherewithal to replace it.” So, he is now thinking of introducing some taxes and charging the villagers for water.
The district administration plans to build 249 houses in three villages—Puttamraju Kandrika, Gollapalli and Nedunuru—under the NTR Housing Scheme, which allocates Rs.2.75 lakh for the construction of each house.
“We have built great roads with tiled pavements,” says Rao. “All I am asking the government to do is rework the houses along the main road so that they look good.”
Having put in a lot of work, the village now waits for Sachin to come and be bowled over by the development.