7. How did you bring all the villagers together in order to make Khopala the best Model –village of water-storage project?

7All the farmers of Khopala had totally 16000 VINGHAS of land. The population of the village was 5000. Major portion of this population lived in Surat, Bhavnagar and Mumbai as they had their business over there. In our village there were mainly 2 political parties who always opposed each other. Bringing these 2 parties together was not a child’s play. In no way was it an easy task. Moreover, after the beginning of the PANCHAYAT RAJ, many SARPANCHS came in power and left. All those ex-SARPANCHS were alive. I was determined to achieve the target of making Khopala the best Model village of water-storage project though there were many hindrances and hardships in the way to our goal.

In 1996 during the Diwali vacation a special programme was organized in honour of all the freedom-fighters living in Bhavnagar district. All the people of Khopala settled in Surat, Bhavnagar and Mumbai attended the programme. The whole village was thoroughly cleaned. 20 bullock-carts, attractively decorated, were presented in the programme. In this grand, memorable programme, all the ex-SARPANCHS belonging to both the political parties were honoured. Mr. Keshubhai Patel also remained present in the programme. The programme was greatly successful and had great positive effect. Many important points were discussed in a light, amiable way. A beautiful atmosphere of unity and harmony was created. This friendly atmosphere of unity and harmony inspired all the villagers to respect one another. As I was the organizer of this hugely successful programme, all the leading persons of the village began to have a feeling of respect and admiration for me.

The issue of Water-storage project was not on the agenda. This issue was altogether untouched. The main purpose of organizing this programme was to give vent to our feelings of honour and appreciation for all the freedom fighters and all the ex-SARPANCHS of the village and to create an atmosphere of unity and harmony in the village. The programme came to an end but I extended my stay by 15 days as I had vacation. During those 15 days I had meetings with different families. I tried to convince them that we should put combined efforts to solve the serious and complex problem of water-storage. I continued my efforts so that discussions about the important issue should not come to an end.

            We organized a meeting in the village and arrived at some important conclusions. The construction of check-dam on the boundary of the village was suggested as it would stop the water from flowing out from the field. This water would collect in the check-dam. Another important suggestion was that 10 ponds should be built to store water. A survey was conducted and a Water-storage committee of 11 members was formed. Some people originally belonging to Khopala but settled in Mumbai and Bhavnagar also attended this meeting. As the Government had not launched any project of constructing check-dams and ponds, people themselves had to arrange funds for the execution of this project.