| Pushpa Devi with the award in Aurangabad on Sunday. Picture by Sanjay Choudhary |
Three years ago, she was like any other woman, looking after household affairs. In 2014, she won accolades for herself and her panchayat in Maoist-affected Aurangabad district.
Meet 33-year-old Pushpa Devi, the mukhiya (panchayat head) of Dudhar in Aurangabad district’s Barun block, 110km south of Patna. Dudhar has been selected for the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran award for 2013-14 for splendid development work at the grassroots level.
Pushpa was communicated about the honour in April, but the Union panchayati raj ministry formally intimated her last week. “The award could not be announced earlier because of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct,” she told The Telegraph.
A team from the Union ministry visited the panchayat in March-April. “They appreciated our efforts to strengthen the panchayati raj system,” she said. The award carries Rs 20 lakh which will help carry out more development work.
Pushpa’s husband, Sidheshwar Mehta, who supports her implement the schemes, said: “My wife was elected mukhiya in 2011. Though she is only a matriculate, she knows how to be an achiever. The credit for winning this award, indeed, goes to her.”
Barun block development officer (BDO) Pankaj Kumar Sinha said a central team carried out the final assessment. There were 45 parameters in which to assess the panchayat’s performance. “Dudhar fulfilled all parameters for the award, which would augment the process of development in the panchayat,” he said.