Whose Village Is It?

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Feb 08, 2013




Gurgaon, in its rush towards becoming a Millennium City, has forgotten its roots. This erstwhile 'gaon' has 40 villages within it today – with 30 more within its 2031 Master Plan. Be it the villages in 'New' Gurgaon, like Sikanderpur, Nathupur, and Mollaheda, or those on the fringes of the City, the fate is almost the same. While the former have turned into urban slums, due to the onslaught of migrant workers, the latter seem to have remained untouched by civilisation. 

Sakatpur, a village just 15 kilometres from the Gurgaon Secretariat, represents the failure of the State in taking care of even the basic infrastructure of the rural areas of Gurgaon. This is not a village in 'moffusil' areas of backward states; it is next door to big-ticket commercial areas like the Golf Course Extension road (the Southern Peripheral Road) and Sohna Road – and just a few kilometres ahead lies the Golden Greens Golf Course.

The road to Sakatpur is broken, pot-holed and in a permanent state of disrepair; only the fancy cars remind you of the era we live in. As a result of the broken roads many a time the seriously ill have lost their lives on their way to a Gurgaon hospital. While Sikanderpur now has to wrestle with the spectre of a futuristic 16-lane road proposed by DLF, that will clinically cut it off from the City, the villages in the outer areas are crying for roads. This imbalance in development, apart from leading to lopsided growth, would result in  a more divided city, warn experts. Mohd Khan, Sarpanch of Sakatpur, says that the village infrastructure  has never been the priority of the government, and the road has been in a poor condition since he was a child. There is no transport service connecting the village with Gurgaon, just 15 kilometres away. The villagers wistfully recall the daily government bus, which used to make three rounds 10 years ago; but they can’t recall the reason why this service, which was a boon for them, was discontinued.




The villagers had approached the District Administration for starting a bus service and improving the road, but their efforts have come to naught. 

With a population of 2,000, and lying close to upcoming Sector 78, Sakatpur has yet to arrive on the real estate map of Gurgaon. However, insiders say that the day is not far when the small holdings of the villagers will be bought by builders – turning them rich individually, though making them poor collectively. Khan says that the majority of villagers are not educated, as education facilities are just primitive. “The majority of the people in this village, which is surrounded by farmhouses owned by the rich and powerful, are dependent on agriculture. If land is taken away, it would be very difficult for them to survive,” he says.

Kulbir Singh, part of an NGO working in the area, says that the Village school needs more teachers and facilities, to make a meaningful contribution. Najmudin, a resident, says that there are only 10 to 15 graduates in the village, and children face a lot of problems. “A large number of girls have to give up studies, as the parents are reluctant to send them even to nearby areas (for higher classes). Even the girls who go out have to walk several kilometres to reach schools, as there is no transport facility,” he says. Many leave school, and some turn to crime, say villagers. Compared to this, the urban villages in Gurgaon witness schools being swamped by migrant children. 

The primary health facility in the village is non-existent. Fortunately, DLF Foundation has started a medical dispensary here, as part of a Cluster Development programme. Till recently there was a large incidence of Scabies, as the people were not aware of basic hygiene, says Pawan Verma,  of the Institute for Global Development (IGD). The village children and women also suffer from  malnutrition, anaemia and various other infections caused by poor hygiene. The villagers are working with the NGOs to create a system whereby garbage can be collected and converted into organic manure. Singh says that it not only improves living conditions but also adds to the income of the Panchayat.

Villagers allege that power supply is at the whims of DHBVN. “Even a small change in weather in Rohtak leads to a power cut in Sakatpur. We do not know why the government and administration are treating us so shabbily,” says a villager.

Yogesh Kaushik, a Congress leader from Gurgaon, admits that the conditions in the village are bad, and massive upgradation of the civic facilities is needed. The power scenario also needs to be improved, as the villagers are dependent on agriculture, and students have to concentrate on learning, he agrees. Recently the villagers had a tiff with the power department over the supply of power during the festival season. Khan says that while no improvement in power supply took place, a number of villagers had to face legal trouble, and the issue was resolved only after paying a fine.  Although compared to other villages in 'New' Gurgaon it has not seen a population explosion, observers say with the development of real estate around it, the time is not far when construction workers and other support staff will pour into this village.

To bring about some semblance of development and services, the Village Panchyat has partnered with DLF Foundation. The Foundation has also brought in teachers through an NGO called Pratham, to augment the teaching strength.

Surprisingly, for 204 students in the Village school (up to class 5), there are only 4 teachers. While the School was upgraded last year, and 34 students admitted to Class 6, there has been no addition of teachers. The 4 teachers in the School were appointed only after the Sarpanch had threatened to approach the newspapers.

The Principal of the School, Aruna Madan, who comes from Gurgaon, says that teachers are not available because of the poor connectivity – no one wants to come here. The condition is such that one teacher comes from distant Jhajjar, while the other comes from Kosli – picking the two female teachers on their way.  “No doubt the kids are talented and smart, but more facilities are needed. We need a regular bus service, more rooms, a water cooler and regular power, to ensure that quality education is imparted,” says Madan.

However, one silver lining is the functional mid-day meal scheme, which attracts the kids in droves. At least 50 children could be seen enjoying their dal-chawal during the afternoon break, oblivious of the humdrum around them. A school teacher says that the mid-day meals have helped in increasing the strength, and also the dropouts have reduced. The villagers question why no generator has been provided to the School, if the same can be given to government schools in urban areas. They also allege that local politicians try to take away facilities and infrastructure funds sanctioned for Sakatpur. Caste and political equations play an important part in the development of rural areas; but despite voting for the present government, the residents of the village do no understand why they are being sidelined.

We are trying to partner with NGOs like DLF Foundation, to bring in development, but their resources are limited – and there are too many like us who need help. Ultimately it is the government which has to take responsibility and bring in change,” says one of the residents, preferring anonymity.  


DLF Foundation:  The residents of Sakatpur are happy with the intervention of DLF Foundation, for improving the health and education infrastructure in the Village. The regular medical facility, and camps organised by the Foundation, have helped in ending the scourge of scabies and other medical ailments.  In the special camps, dentists, general physicians, gynaecologists and several support staff are brought in to provide medical facilities, says Kulbir Singh. They provide free medical checkups, and medicines are made available at only a nominal price.

Sarpanch Mohd Khan says, “We are going to give land to the Foundation to set up a permanent dispensary, as the present one is running in a school.” The DLF Foundation is also planning to construct a shed for the collection of kitchen waste, which would be turned into compost.

To forge new relationships, Vijay Singh, Associate Director, CSR, DLF Foundation requested and sought partnership with various Panchayats and corporates around Sakatpur area, to come forward and associate themselves for the further development of the area. He also said that as part of the Cluster Development Programme the Foundation is contributing for the development in 5 key areas – namely Social, Economic, Environment, Health
and Education.

P.K Joseph, Associate Director, CSR, said that DLF Foundation strives to enhance the quality of education in rural areas by supplementing government interventions. In addition to managing and partnering in formal schools, DLF Rural Learning Excellence Centres and Rural Libraries help the underprivileged children  realise their dreams. DLF Foundation has also assigned a few trained and dedicated teachers to government primary schools, to teach as well as nurture talent.

Joseph also said that they have identified talented students, and have enrolled them in private schools, and the expenses are fully borne by DLF Foundation. The Foundation regularly provides scholarships and sponsorships to underprivileged students.


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