Realizing the dire need to find solutions to the problems of the people belonging to rural India, Dr. Heggade initiated several rural development programs that follow the 'Gandhian ideal of rural welfare'. He strongly believes that the need of the hour is to build a stable, strong and civilized life for villagers across the country as the majority of Indian society resides in the villages. 'Hand to mouth' existence of the rural people due to lack of opportunities and required skill continued to exist from generation to generation. Dr. Heggade saw immense opportunities for the rural people to earn from additional small vocations. In order to empower them he strategically designed a regular, monitoring and motivational scheme through the rural development programs. The alternate and additional self employment opportunities such as rolling of agarbathies, textile manufacturing, food production, small scale business have been introduced to the poor rural people through the sustained training programs under the umbrella of SKDRDP. Sri Kshethra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project, popularly known as SKDRDP focuses on community development, women empowerment and rehabilitation programs to strengthen rural India. Dr. L.H Manjunath, Executive Director monitors the activities of SKDRDP.
Shri Dharmasthala SIRI Gramodyoga Samsthe
Located at Laila, near Belthangadi SIRI, a center that has been created for empowerment of rural women belonging to Self Help Groups of Jnaana Vikaas with skills, infrastructure and support to produce market quality consumer products under the brand name SIRi .
Having provided growth opportunities to farmers and their women folk, the next concern was their health. When medical aid and hospitalization became costlier, Shri Heggade came up with a unique health insurance program. The first of its kind, Sampoorna Suraksha, reaches out to the poorest of poor. The premium covers hospitalization and post hospitalization expenses.
The need for obtaining energy from the inexhaustible resources was realized by Dr Heggade while the world is geared up for further technological development. In the beginning, the initiative provided the rural folk, financial assistance to acquire Solar Home Lighting Systems and instal Bio-gas Plants. Now it encourages Self Help Groups to produce Solar Lighting Systems by including Renewable Energy as a subject in the training imparted to Self Help Groups. Apart from financial support, the SHGs are provided guidance in identifying vendors of the Renewable Energy Equipment.
SKDRDP has been doing some brilliant work in providing sustainable energy solutions to the people. The efforts were globally recognized, with the prestigious Ashden International Gold Award to Shri Veerendra Heggade.
Many villages in our country do not have access to pure drinking water. Either the surface water is contaminated or ground water has high levels of fluoride and dissolved solvents. This makes them unsuitable for drinking. It is estimated that nearly 90% of the villages suffer due to lack of pure drinking water.
To address this issue, Dr Heggade introduced Shudhaganga, a unique community effort to provide pure drinking water. Impure Water is purified through Reverse Osmosis and stored in pure water tanks. This water is sold to villagers in 20 litre jerry cans.
To ensure participation of villagers, pure water is charged a nominal 10 paise per liter. It costs around Rs.10 lakhs to set up a Shudhganga Plant which includes a building, separate storage tanks for pure and impure water and the water purifying equipment.
With the support from the government and philanthropic institutions for the installation, the cost of maintaining the plant is recovered from the villagers by charging for pure water. SKDRDP has installed over 255 plants in various districts of Karnataka.
Sujnaana Nidhi Scholarships
Under this program,meritorius children from families of Self Help Groups are provided with scholarships - Rs.1000.00 per month to 1000 deserving students opting for technical courses like BE, MBBS, BAMS, BDS etc, Rs.400.00 per month to 3000 students opting for other streams of education. This scholarship is given till the student completes the course. So far Rs. 2555.30 lakhs has been disbursed as scholarship to 22,975 students.
With the active participation of the people, SKDRDP built over 420 crematoriums by providing financial aid and technical guidance. These crematoriums use silicon chambers which ensure quick cremation and also ensure low fuel consumption. A Crematorium Betterment Committee maintains these facilities. So far more than 420 Rudra Bhoomies have been built at a cost of Rs.434.02 lakhs.
Like poverty and despair, affluence too could become the bane of mankind. With all the developmental activities, the rural folk saw sunshine pervading their lives. Despair and despondency remained just a nightmare in their minds. However alcoholism, the old social evil again threatened to cast its ugly shadow over these people. Realising this Shri Heggade again embarked on a program of de-addiction through a new project named Jana Jaagrutivedike. It provided the perfect platform for the eradication of alcoholism. This vedike conducted as many as 990 de-addiction camps that helped over 76,000 alcoholics to be liberated from the shackles of alcohol. However this was not enough. The de-addicts had to continue being away from alcohol. To help in this endeavour Nava JeevanaSamithis were formed. These Samithis enrolled those liberated from addiction and helped them to avoid the temptation by making the members share each other's experiences. They also helped the members to strengthen their economic and financial status..