Change Story of M. Basudev Rao on Rural Housing

M. Basudev Rao, aged 35, is a resident of the Baxipalli hamlet in Rangeilunda Block of Ganjam district. He is perhaps the most educated amongst the residents of the hamlet. He pursued his degree in Law through a correspondence course while simultaneously working as a Technical Assistant in a Chemical Recharge Management Company in Rourkela. 5 years of juggling between both the roles turned him into a lawyer by education. The job market however got the better of him and instead of practicing law, he went on to fulfill certain financial commitments towards his family and joined as a supervisor in a Road Construction Company in the army catchment areas. His monthly salary went up from INR 1200 to INR 6000. The job was physically gruelling and kept him away from his family for months. His disillusionment grew by the day until he finally quit his job and returned to his native village.

The only option left for him was to work as a daily wage labourer in the construction site of an Industrial Park being set up by Tata Steel. Because of his previous experience, he received the wages of a skilled labourer which amounted to INR 300 per day. His monthly wages ranged from INR 6000 – 7500, depending on the availability of work.

Basudev was visibly unhappy about the nature of his work. He wanted to give back to his community but for the lack of resources at his end. It was at this point in time that the Odisha Disaster Recovery Project was being initiated in Baxipalli. The relocation site was named New Baxipalli. The Community Mobilisers of Gram Vikas had begun the process of sensitizing the residents about the benefits of participating in the Mason Training programme. The news reached Basudev and he thought of this as a good opportunity to earn and work in his village and not travel to the construction site which was 5 kms away. The training helped build on his earlier knowledge as a construction worker and he graduated from being a mason to a master mason in a matter of weeks. His enthusiasm was palpable. He went beyond his job responsibilities and helped the Mobilisers influence his fellow community members. He initiated meetings and helped people understand the idea behind the project, its intended benefits and the concept of Owner Driven Construction. He helped them gather resources such as labour, bricks, sand and rods; and also facilitated access to the different stages of funds. He even went on to initiate construction of Toilets and Bathrooms under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the community. Basudev’s efforts were recognized by Gram Vikas and he was recruited as the Site In-Charge for the ODRP. He now receives a monthly salary of INR 8000.

He feels that his contribution towards the creation of N. Baxipalli has been duly recognized by the organization as well as the community. The sense of satisfaction is immense. In his words, "The poor in this village would have never had a concrete house over their heads. Not in this life at least. They have seen cyclone after cyclone and have managed to gather their meagre resources with relief from the government to resume their lives. The wind speed during Phailin was unimaginable. It was nowhere close to the Super Cyclone though. "We have lost everything time and again. Not anymore. This time, we will have a concrete roof over our heads. Our boats will be safe, our people will be safe, and our things will be safe.”

Basudev believes that education helps open the doors of one’s mind. He wants to educate the people of his village. He hopes that one day, people from his village will migrate from fishing to more reliable and respectable vocations. Until then, the battle towards dignity continues.