It’s normal practice for village folk to travel to far-off government offices situated in towns and cities for small work which doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

What a welcome change it would be if such facilities are provided in the village or close to a village. It is not only convenient for the users but also results in better use of the facility.

In one such example, the Rajiv Gandhi Sewa Kendra and Park, situated at village Awa in Fazilka district of Punjab, has proved a boon for  villagers.

The Sewa Kendra was constructed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA) and is now one of the success stories of this rural employment guarantee programme.

The sprawling building with a covered area of 800 square feet has become a seat of administration in the village and adjoining area.

The gram panchayat (village council) head, Shavinder Singh, 37, said the Seva Kendra is not just helping villagers hold their meetings irrespective of weather, but also helping poor residents hold functions like marriages without any financial burden.

“Besides this, with the help of MGNREGA we have developed four parks, three roads. And now we are also planning to develop our village pond as a lake which will have 400 metres running track and a cycle track. A gym will also be installed in the village with the help of  MGNREGA,” Singh told The Statesman over phone.

The building is also serving many purposes for the village folk. With a seating arrangement  of 150 to 170 people, this building is a perfect venue for periodic meetings to be held by Gram Panchayat (village council), said a rural development department official, not wishing to be named.

The official said all the works of MGNREGA like new work demand, new job cards, updation in job cards, MGNREGA payments, etc., are now done at the village level as whenever required concerned officials visit it. Most of the MGNREGA related issues are solved at the spot. All the administrative and related work of the village council is also carried out in this building.

Situated 13 km from the India-Pakistan international border, Awa village has a population of 1150 and a total of 201 MGNREGA job cards have been made in the village. The MGNREGA job card holders got employment under this very project in their own village.

Hassle free delivery of MGNREGA and other related services at the doorstep of the residents of the village is now proving to be a  best governance practice.

The residents are happy to get their work done in the village itself without making round of offices at district headquarters. This is not only saving their time and energy but also their MGNREGA related work is streamlined and their issues are being addressed.

With this hi-tech enabled Sewa Kendra in place, enrollment for all social security schemes like old age pension, widow’s pension, Antyodaya scheme and Atta Dal scheme has also become much easier for the villagers. Banking services are also being availed through the same centre.