Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar is using his Local Area Development fund on the long-neglected adivasi community in Aarey Colony; he has commissioned the construction of footpaths and six toilets in the area, and has also distributed 500 solar lamps among the locals
As a Rajya Sabha member, Sachin Tendulkar has come under fire several times over the years for failing to carry out development work, so this year, the celebrated cricketer and MP has decided to answer his detractors not with words but action.
Built at a cost of around Rs 10 lakh, this toilet in Vanichapada is almost complete. Pic/Nimesh Dave
It is an added advantage that he has turned his attention to tribal hamlets in Aarey Milk Colony, which have long been neglected by the authorities. Tendulkar is now using his MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) funds to construct six public toilets, as well as footpaths inside these adivasi padas.
Work has already begun, and on Thursday, mid-day found that the toilet in Vanichapada was almost complete. Each toilet is being built at a cost of Rs 9.9 lakh. Pics/Nimesh Dave
In addition, he has also distributed 500 solar lamps among the adivasi community. This is a godsend for the tribal residents, some of whom have lived there for over a century but still lack basic facilities like electricity and toilets. Aarey is notorious for man-leopard conflict, and the lack of toilets forces many locals to answer nature’s in the open, where they are more vulnerable to leopard attacks.
Kisan Baliram Yerekar, Aarey Colony resident
“Most of us risk our lives each time we answer nature’s call, as this is how many human-leopard conflicts have happened. We are happy that at least MP Sachin Tendulkar is using his funds to construct good quality toilets,” said Chandu Jadhav, a resident of Vanichapada.
Tendulkar has commissioned the construction of six public toilets (each will have four booths inside) at Vanichapada, Mataipada, Khambyachapada, Gavdevipada, Gitunichapa-da and Futkyatalavachapada. Work has already begun; on Thursday, mid-day found that construction of the toilet at Vanichapada is almost complete, and only the final touches remained.
The entire project is expected to be complete by monsoon. Locals are thrilled with the quality of the construction as well, and say that it is far superior to the toilets built by MHADA-SRA. These older toilets were roofed with asbestos sheets that often crumbled in the monsoon, whereas the new toilets have solid concrete slabs overhead.
In addition, the new toilets have better tiles within and even have running water connections (from a tank housed at the back), which the MHADA-SRA toilets lack.“We are not saying that our local public representatives did no development work, but a lot more needs to be done.
We are really happy that Sachin Tendulkar at least thought of providing good infrastructure at the adivas padas like public toilets, internal concrete footpaths and solar lights,” said Kisan Baliram Yerekar, an Aarey resident for the past 40 years.
Let there be light
Aarey Colony houses 27 adivasi padas with over 8,000 tribal voters. Many of the padas nestled in Aarey and in the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park, such as Vanichapada and Khadakpada are shrouded in darkness as they do not have proper electricity and lighting.
This, despite the fact that many of them have been living there since at least 1861. “Illegal structures that came up later in Aarey have legal electricity connections now, but we are still deprived even after staying here for over a hundred years. The solar lamps distributed to us by MP Sachin Tendulkar is helping a lot,” said Chandu Jadhav, a resident of Vanichapada.
What is MPLAD?
Rajya Sabha MPs can adopt a district of their choice where they can utilise up to Rs 5 crore for development projects from their MPLAD fund. MP Sachin Tendulkar adopted Mumbai-Suburban, but his funds had lapsed in 2012-13 as he had not recommended any projects, due to which he had to face a lot of flak.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MLA and Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar told mid-day, “We welcome the initiative wherein MP Sachin Tendulkar is constructing public toilets at adivasi padas in Aarey. I have constructed more than 400 public toilets there and we have also provided electricity and water connections to a majority of the padas. The repair work of internal roads in Aarey Colony has also started.”