By Sanjay Borka
Panaji, May 28 (IANS): With a view to addressing the housing needs of underprivileged people, Goa Speaker (and Canacona MLA) Ramesh Tawadkar has popularised the concept of 'Shram Dham', under which thousands of people are dedicating a day of the week to construct homes in Canacona.
Tawadkar, a tall leader of the Schedule Tribe community in Goa, has said he intends to build 150 houses through public participation under the Shram Dham concept. At present, work is on for around 15 houses and a few have been completed.
This concept of Shram Dham has garnered significant attention and admiration, wherein people across the state are donating and visiting the Canacona area to lend a helping hand to build homes for poor people.
Individuals are encouraged to contribute a minimum amount, starting from Rs 1, and dedicate a day of their lives to build houses for these needy people, under this service-oriented concept.
Appealing to all individuals to contribute to this cause, Tawadkar said that this noble contribution will allow the team of Shram Dham to build around 150 houses for the poorest of poor people in Canacona, ensuring access to a fundamental necessity of a home.
With this concept getting momentum, local panch members have also dedicated themselves to it and are in process to identify the families who are in need of helping hands.
"This concept was there in olden times, where villagers used to help each other. I have seen this during my childhood. Hence, I initiated this concept. I have gone through all stages of life and today I have reached this post of speaker," Tawadkar said.
"There are people who respect my post and also to me, hence I thought why not to engage these people to accomplish this," he said.
"I personally work to build these houses. When I work there (on field) others get motivated. During weekends hundreds of people join us," he said.
He said that the houses are constructed providing all needed facilities inside. "I have started this work on humanitarian grounds. Not only tribal, but non-tribal families also have benefited with this concept," Tawadkar, a school teacher by profession, said.
Speaking to IANS, Mahesh Naik, panch member of Passol Ardhfond in Poinguinim village of South Goa, said that it is a great initiative started by the speaker Tawadkar.
"There is one family of six members in my ward whose head is Harishandra Naik, where four members are handicapped, including three children. Under the Shram Dham they have been provided a home, which is under completion," he said.
"Their home had weakened due to the floods decades ago, hence they were staying in their uncle's place. But Tawadkar has brought them back to their home," Naik said.
He said that not only the locals of this area, but people from across the state including government servants dedicate their weekends to construct houses.
Octogenarian Harishandra Naik, beneficiary of Shram Dham, said that his house had fully collapsed. "I was staying in my brother's house after my house collapsed," he said.
Nilesh Pagi, panch member from Agonda Panchayat, told IANS that it's the noble work started by Ramesh Tawadkar. "In our Panchayat area, three houses are under construction, wherein all three ladies are widows and they had no income source to construct the house," Pagi said.
"Under this concept we request people to donate Rs 1 and to give their one day for the work. We have got a very good response to this and many volunteers are coming to help to build the homes," Pagi said.
Bhiva Gaonkar, panch member from Shristhal Panchayat in Canacona, said that they are working to build two houses. "Shram Dham is the best concept to provide homes to poor people, their dreams come become reality with the participation of the public," Gaonkar said.
He said that they are constructing a house for one septuagenarian Salu Pangalo Gaonkar, who lives alone. "She has nobody in her family, she lives alone in a hut. So Ramesh Tawadkar decided to build a home for her," he said.
In an effort to address the housing needs of the underprivileged and poor communities, Ramesh Tawadkar recently addressed the webinar, reaching out to Panchayat Officials, Municipality Officials, Taluka Nodal Officers, Block Development Officers, Talathis, and Swayampurna Mitras.
The webinar shed light on the innovative concept of Shram Dham, emphasising the importance of providing a shelter to those in need, guided by the principles of Antodaya, Gramodaya, Sarvodaya.
Ramesh Tawadkar elaborated on the core principles of Shram Dham: to construct houses for the underprivileged and ensure access to a fundamental necessity of a home.
According to Tawadkar, other legislators are appreciating him.
Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader and Power Minister Sudin Dhavalikar has also appreciated the efforts of Tawadkar. "I am happy to see how poor people are benefited with this concept. These families were in real need of shelter, which Tawadkar has provided," Dhavalikar after visiting the construction of houses in Canacona said.