Strengthening of Local Self-Government

Strengthening of Local Self-Government

Central and state governments provide special entitlements to individuals living below the poverty line. Regular surveys are conducted to identify and include deserving beneficiaries in the ‘Below Poverty Line’ (BPL) list. In early 2019, the Tiruvallur Block Development Office issued an order to all panchayats, instructing them to update the BPL list based on the current economic status of village residents.

At that time, the head (elected representative) of Velliyur Gram Panchayat misused his influence to remove the forms and data submitted by some deserving beneficiaries. Instead, he inserted the names of his own relatives and friends who did not qualify as economically poor.

When the BPL list was announced, the villagers were deeply disappointed to find many of their names missing. They were also outraged to see some wealthy individuals listed as beneficiaries of BPL. This issue was discussed within the Mahila Mandals. The Mahila Mandal members wrote petitions, collected signatures from all members, and raised their concerns with the Gram Panchayat head. Unfortunately, their complaints were ignored. Despite repeated requests and petitions in the Grama Sabha, no action was taken.

In response, the women of the Mahila Mandals decided to escalate the matter and gathered supporters. Village residents, primarily women from the Mahila Mandals, arrived at the collector’s office in Tiruvallur using two vans, tractors, a public bus, and motorbikes. Approximately 150 people gathered to protest.

While some women refrained from participating in the protest due to fear of their husbands, and a few men discouraged the women from taking part, the Mahila Mandal proved to be a powerful force. They demanded that deserving households be included in the BPL list and persisted in their collective efforts. Eventually, the government heeded their petition.

Within two weeks, 142 deserving individuals were added to the BPL list, and the names of the wealthy were removed. This incident became a hallmark success story, leading to more women joining the Mahila Mandal and actively participating in the Upagram Sabha and Grama Sabha. They recognized the significance of their role in local self-governance.