Highway Touch Point showcases holistic village development

Union Textiles Minister and Bareilly MP Santosh Gangwar inaugurates Village TahTajpur’s Highway Touch Point (HTP) which is expected to soon become a showcase point for rural craftsmen in general, and a sales outlet for nearby villages
Highway Touch Point showcases holistic village development

The Highway Touch Point, a CSR initiative of IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd.(ITNL) will showcase the holistic development initiatives that are being implemented at Village TahTajpur by Mrida, a Social Business Venture focused on rural development.

The HTP located on the Highway at the entrance of Village TahTajpur, Block Bithari Chainpur, District Bareilly is an income generation and employment initiative that started as a combined effort of the Village Development Committee(VDC), that was put in place by ITNL as part of their CSR initiatives. The HTP will be a ‘touch point’ for ITNL customers using the highway, where they can stop for a while, use clean toilet facilities, and pick up some refreshments/water/packaged foods, along with fresh produce from the village as well as local handicrafts.

The HTP will be managed by the Village Development Committee from Village TahTajpur. The VDC will enter into an arrangement with zari and other craftsmen/sellers whereby they will get a commission on sales made from the HTP. Under the arrangement between ITNL and the VDC, the initial setup cost, and running cost for the first two years will largely be borne by ITNL as part of their CSR initiative. During this period, the VDC members will be guided to progressively generate revenue from HTP activities, so that operating costs thereafter can be met from these internal revenues, thus making the entire initiative self-sustainable.

ITNL is the market leader in the road infrastructure space with one of the largest BOT portfolio in India. Mrida is the implementation partner for the HTP as well as the MPowered Village Initiative, and working together with the ITNL teams, has helped conceptualize the concept of the HTP, and bring it to the implementation stage.

“Over a period of time, ITNL would like to carry forward the HTP Initiative at TahTajpur, and after incorporating the learnings from the same, extend the concept to set up HTPs at different scales and levels, in other parts of the country as well, where they are engaged in infrastructure and development activities as part of regular business operations”, says Ashutosh Chandwar, Regional Head & Vice President (North) IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited

The HTP will also have a basic first aid kit and medication. Over time, the objective is to have a trained person who will be in a position to provide immediate medical attention in case of accidents, and who will also be trained to quickly reach out to the authorities concerned for further specialized assistance

The HTP will serve an outlet for produce from Village TahTajpur which is being developed as a IL&FS MPowered Village – fresh vegetables, handicraft items, clothing items and accessories stitched by the girls and the womenfolk for the village. Apart from being a sales outlet, it will also help generate employment over time, for the people manning the HTP.

Moving forward, the HTP will become a showcase point for rural craftsmen in general, and a sales outlet for nearby villages. Even at the moment for instance, a zari craftsman from the adjacent village Urla Jagir is setting up his zari making unit in the HTP. Visitors can thus see for themselves, how the intricate zari work is done, and will also have an opportunity to buy clothes and other articles directly from the craftsman.

Visitors to the HTP will also have an opportunity to undertake short guided tours to Village TahTajpur itself, where they can see for themselves, how the ITNL have helped transform the village and lives within, how the VDC operates and in general, what life in rural India is all about.

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BK Jha is the Special Correspondent of Rural & Marketing. Prior to this he has been associated with The Hindustan Times, Political and Business Daily along with many other media organisations.
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