Popatrao Baguji Pawar has conferred India’s fourth-highest civilian honor Padma Shri for his contribution towards transforming his drought-prone village into a green model village.
Back in 1989, Popatrao Pawar took charges as the sarpanch of Hiware Bazar which is a small village in Maharashtra. The village used to suffer from so many agriculture-related issues like frequent droughts, low agricultural yield, lack of resources, etc. In fact, Hiware Bazar is a rain-shadow region which typically receives less than 15 inches of rainfall per year which made it prone to frequent droughts.
But, Mr. Pawar’s entry has entered transformed the fate of the village as well as the people living there. Mr. Pawar got inspired by Anna Hazare and started some projects like rainwater harvesting, watershed conservation and management etc in Hiware Bazar. Apart from these projects, he also made the plant tress. After planting of lakhs of trees, the village has now transformed into the green model village.
Back in the 1990s, Hiware Bazar used to have barely 90 wells. But, today the village has around 294 water wells. He also solved the water problems of the villagers with the help of contour trenches to recharge groundwater. He has revived farming as a source of income again. Villagers also used the water on cattle farming which has been bringing in huge revenue from milk production as well.
Villagers also used to have alcohol problems before Popatrao Pawar became the Sarpanch. But Pawar banned alcohol in the village and made HIV test mandatory before marriage. He has also turned the village into a nearly mosquito-free area. All these policies made Hiware Bazar into a self-sufficient, clean and model green village.
Mr. Pawar is currently working as the executive director of Maharashtra state government’s model village programme.