The Home Department of the Government of Maharashtra launched the innovative scheme for Alternative Dispute Resolution in 2007 aimed to address the issues with efforts from the community for speedy disposal. It was observed that at the village level, disputes often arise over petty issues. Even though initially few people may be involved, petty disputes if unresolved can contribute to contention and result in distrust which can further decline mutual relations and are a potential threat to the peace and harmony of the community. The Mahatma Gandhi Tantamukt Gaon Mohim is a village level Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system which seeks to work with a two pronged strategy, firstly it has a preventive role by virtue of which there is a conscious effort made by the village community to prevent the occurrence of any passive or regressive conflict – dispute in the village and secondly to resolve existing disputes at the village level through people's participation and initiative

The salient features of this mission are:

1. Formation of Tanta Mukt Samitis at each and every village in the state.

2. Identification of existing disputes, classifying them into criminal, civil, revenue and

3. Noting them down in a register maintained by the samiti.

4. Preventive schemes and measures to ensure that disputes do not occur..

5. Resolution of existing and new disputes in a democratic, fair and participative manner.

Major Activities

1. Resolution of pending compoundable criminal civil revenue and other disputes by

2. village committee,

3. celebration of festivals with communal harmony,

4. Empowerment and delegation of responsibility to villagers to resolve disputes,

5. Precautionary and preventive steps

Design and Process:

The initiative focuses on formation of a committee at the village level with 45 members which includes around 30-35 % women. The village level committee should have representation from all communities and sects in the village. The chairperson and member secretary of the committee are selected by the gram panchayat. For the purpose of implementation there are committees set up at state, district, tehsil and village level which review the progress. There is a district and village level committee which enforces the programme. The villages performing well on the resolving disputes and maintaining peace and harmony are rewarded by the state government.

Impact

Pune district where 790 out of 1,134 villages have become ‘dispute-free' in the last two and a half years. It is acknowledged by the state government that high amount of civil, revenue, criminal and other cases are resolved at the village level.

1. The initiative has shed enormous load of petty cases to the law enforcement bodies and judiciary.

2. The initiative has strengthened the community participation in the matters of village development which has strengthened the governance at the local level.

3. The intervention has strengthened the decentralised model of governance and has paved way for inducting transparency and accountability to the processes.

4. The village level committee has been empowered in the process to flag issues concerning to citizens with the administration and have been a strong facilitator for the village development.

5. The committee for dispute free village has helped to share the burden of panchyats by carrying out activities of bridging community gap and resolving contentions among groups.

6. The most important aspect of the intervention is that is has been able to successfully bridge the gap between police and citizens and has provided a platform for the two to come together for reflection and planning experiences and engage into affirmative action.

The project has been able to evolve the necessary conditions of leadership and people’s participation which has contributed in creating an environment for collaborative to sustain peace and harmony in the villages. The initiative has been successful in creating a forum for the police to engage with citizens and be partners in the change process.