Sulabh chief hands over dole cheque to Kalawati

July 31st, 2008 - 10:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Jalka (Maharashtra), July 31 (IANS) Kalawati Bandurkar, the farmer widow brought to limelight by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s visit to her woebegone hut and subsequent parliamentary reference, Thursday received a cheque of Rs.300,000 from Sulabh International founder chairman Bindeshwar Pathak as the first instalment of assistance and a promise of subsequent monthly dole of Rs.25,000 for 20 years. Moved to here from Rahul Gandhi’s July 22 Lok Sabha speech about the plight of Kalawati after her husband Parshuram Bandurkar’s suicide three years ago due to indebtedness, the pioneer of sanitation movement announced an assistance of Rs.25,000 per month with a view to ending her untold misery.

A week later, Pathak visited Kalawati’s village in Yavatmal district, dubbed as India’s ’suicide capital’, along with his wife Amola and senior executives of Sulabh International and handed over the cheque to the visibly moved widow, Her two young sons and three daughters were present.

“This initial assistance will rid Kalawati of her indebtedness and enable her to construct a two-room house with a toilet and bathroom attached,” Pathak said.

He was referring to a personal loan of Rs.90,000 that Kalawati has to repay and to her leaking tin-roofed hut where she lives a life full of struggle and penury with her children.

The NGO head said he would put Rs.3 million in a bank fixed deposit account in Kalawati’s name in October, against which she would get a monthly interest of Rs.25,000 to support her four children’s education and lead a comfortable life.

“Money cannot buy her happiness; money cannot bring her husband back. But it can certainly ensure that Kalawati and her children never ever have to go to bed empty-stomach - it can, in fact, take care of all her needs and afford a decent education for her children,” Pathak said. “Over a time, she can also buy some agricultural land,” he added.

Pathak also announced that he would shortly visit Shashikala, the other woman in Yavatmal district whom Rahul Gandhi visited July 18 and referred to in his Lok Sabha speech, and provide her a monthly assistance of Rs.15,000.

“Shashikala’s husband (Prahlad Rengne) is alive and together, the two (farm labourers in Yavatmal district’s Sonkhas village) toil in the field supporting the education of their three highly aspiring sons,” Pathak said. He added that he hoped the monthly financial support would enable the children fulfill their dreams.

Having thus extended generous help to two struggling agricultural families from India’s hinterland, Pathak also told reporters that he is networking with the country’s leading corporate houses and billionaires in an effort to raise a corpus for millions of other families living in abject poverty.

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