Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Woman president empowers this Madurai panchayat

V Devanathan, TNN Apr 21, 2013, 02.31AM IST

MADURAI: Residents of Thirali, a panchayat of 5,400 people in Madurai district, were unaware all these years that a three-acre agricultural plot in the possession of a villager was once a water tank. For more than half a century, the owner was farming in the land.

Recently, the panchayat recovered the land and restored it to its original state of a water body. In the past one-and-a-half years, Thirali panchayat has recovered about 50 acres of village land that had been encroached upon for several years.
Villagers attribute this remarkable land recovery spree to the 52-year-old woman panchayat president Chandra Pitchai. Pitchai, who was recently awarded the best woman panchayat president in Madurai district, has been working for long to make Thirali a model panchayat.

One of her initiatives was to make villagers pay taxes. Now, Thirali residents proudly claim that none in the village defaults on taxes. "Initially, residents didn't support me when I insisted that they pay the taxes properly. Similarly, they were against removal of encroachments. However, they gradually understood the importance of paying taxes and the advantages of keeping the river area free of encroachments," she says.
Pitchai describes herself as uneducated though she can read and write Tamil and English. She even took an initiative to provide free tuition to students from the villages up to Class 12.
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