Fighting disease by building a sewer system and paving lanes in Dhahan village
In 2013, CIES launched the Dhahan Village Improvement Project in partnership with the Dhahan village council (i.e., the “gram panchayat”).
The Dhahan Village Improvement Project was an infrastructure project valued at nearly $300,000, whereby 75% was to come from the Punjab government through its Non Resident Indian (NRI) matching grant program.
CIES enlisted the Babar Karam Singh Village Improvement Trust for management of the project, since the latter organization has expertise in non-profit infrastructure planning and execution.
Dr. Gurdev Gill, the first Indo-Canadian medical doctor in Canada, also joined this project and provided advice.
The goal was to reduce infectious disease by building a sanitary sewer system, and connecting all village households to it. Water service did already exist in the village, but not all households were using the centrally provided water.
The project also aimed to pave village lanes and to close open drains in those village lanes.
The agreement for the project was signed in the presence of the B.C. Cabinet Minister, Michael De Jong, at the GN Trust campus, during an official visit by B.C. Premier Christy Clark in November, 2011.
His Excellency Scot Slessor, Consul General of Canada, toured the Dhahan village on February 14, 2013, and participated in the announcement of the project.
The presence of these Canadian leaders was important to promote the work among the locals, and to show what Canadians are doing in India to improve local living conditions. The official recognition by Canada of the importance of this project was significant.
Activities that took place to complete the sewer system and lane-paving work
Dr. Pierre Berube from UBC, representing IC-IMPACTS, visited the village and toured the facilities that were to be improved, in order to give broad advice on it. However, all the engineering work, including design, was done by local Indian consultants under the direction of the Babar Karam Singh Village Improvement Trust and the Dhahan village panchayat.
Despite some setbacks, CIES completed all of its promised work by 2016. Sanitary sewer systems, lane paving and waterworks were built.
Outcomes of the project
As of 2022, CIES and the Dhahan village panchayat still await funding from the government of Punjab to complete their commitment to the project and provide connections to all the households.
After the release of the 2nd instalment, the remaining two government instalments were delayed. This put a large portion of the project on hold.
In addition, some resistance from villagers took place. They felt they were being forced to connect to a water and sewer system that they don’t want. However all the villagers are happy that the lanes are paved and safe to walk at night without the risk of tripping and falling.
CIES remains optimistic that the project will be completed, and that it will have a positive effect on the residents in the village by reducing disease and improving overall health.