35-year-old Sibaram Bandhia lives in the Bandhia Guda village of Koraput District. The village has 56 households with a population of 267. About 43 are children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. There is no primary school in the village to provide basic and elementary education to these children. The nearest primary school is located 2 kilometres away in a neighbouring village. A stream flows between the two villages which the children from Bandhia Guda have to cross on their way to school. This presents many difficulties to the children trying to attend school, particularly on rainy days.
Having understood the problems of their children, the villagers of Bandhia Guda organized a village level meeting and unanimously decided to approach officials at block level to set up a primary school in their village. They visited their Block Development Office and submitted an application to this effect. When no positive outcome was forthcoming they returned many times to follow up on their application but without success. It is during that period that they learned from a staff of SOVA, a local NGO, of a unique grievance redressal mechanism called SAMADHAN, through which they would be able to reach the District Administration directly to have their grievance addressed.
The villagers of Bandhia Guda village discussed this option in their community meeting and decided unanimously to use this new mechanism in the hope their complaint would finally be redressed. In November 2011, they formally registered their grievance through the state toll-free number, which citizens are becoming more aware of as a result of campaigning by community volunteers trained by SOVA. The complaint reached the District Administration directly. The matter was transferred to the District Primary Education Department (DPED), who studied their grievance with utmost importance. After giving it due consideration, the DPED department gave approval and sanctioned the project to start a primary school in Bandhia Guda village. The site selection work has already been completed and the construction work of the school building is underway. The villagers are cooperating wholeheartedly in this noble cause and the role of the community in this entire situation is very positive and commendable. This is a very inspiring and encouraging story of the villagers of Bandhia Guda, whose combined efforts paid off and their grievance was resolved through the SAMADHAN system.