BIS #6860 LOKHIT: Lonavla Khandala Improvement Thrust

By Fr Blany Pinto for BISMumbai

A document entitled ‘LOKHIT’ (LOnavla KHandala Improvement Thrust) was released on Wednesday, 21 December 2022 at the hands of Mr Saurabh Rao, IAS, the Divisional Commissioner of Pune during a short ceremony in the presence of Mr Pandit Patil, CEO of Lonavla Municipal Corporation.

Being the Diamond Jubilee year of Don Bosco, Lonavla, the Management wanted to make an unique contribution to the town of Lonavla. 26 students, guided by the teachers of the institution and mentored by Commander Sunil Dhulekar and Mr. Makarand Newalkar, both seniors of the J. M. Bakshi Group, took up the challenge and conducted a sample survey of 500 respondents. This was done to understand the various sectors that are offered to the citizenry as well as tourists.

Lonavla, a hill-town strategically located between Mumbai and Pune has been an attraction as a place of leisure and stress-buster during weekends. In an attempt to cater to the tourists, Lonavla has made provision for all city-life luxuries. The increasing pressure on the city’s infrastructure because of the above factors along with the high volume of floating population necessitated an assessment of the development needs. This was possible by conducting a study of the strengths and opportunities that are sustaining Lonavla and by identifying weaknesses and threats too.

Mr Krishna Kotak, Chairman J. M. Baxi group of companies, trustee of VBK Foundation and an alumnus of Don Bosco Lonavla had proposed this project. Being the backbone of the project, he delivered the keynote address. This was followed by a presentation of the document by Commander Sunil Dhulekar after which Mr Jaideep Samarth, President of Lonavla & Khandala Citizens Forum, offered citizens perspective. This was followed by the chief guest, Mr Rao, addressing the gathering and releasing the document. He assured the people that he would make necessary interventions suggested in the report. He also called for a meeting of the concerned people on 12 January to discuss how the project can be taken forward and to fix a timeline to accomplish the same.

Some students were apprehensive while others excited. There were lots of apprehensions on the part of the students before the survey began. “I was wondering whether the people from whom information was being sought would be patient with us and would give us appropriate answers”, said Ms Swaleha Mevegar.

Ms Afrin Khan, a college teacher said, “As a teacher in the Commerce Section, it was a great experience to see a practical application of what we teach in the classroom. I felt very proud and happy as the document was being released that I got an opportunity to be a part of this economic survey.” Mr Apurva Chatterjee, a senior college teacher of Mathematics and Physics said, “It initially appeared mission impossible as it was difficult to convince the students and parents, above all the people whom we were encountering. But now when the document is ready I feel mission accomplished! It's very satisfying and pleasing that our students can do such wonderful projects if guided properly.” “I was really excited to see the outcome of our survey come out in the form of a published document” exclaimed a student participant. Ms Saniya Oswal.

No one can gainsay the fact that Don Bosco has made a huge difference to the residents of Lonavla by imparting education over the last 60 years. But a sample survey resulting in a rich document, seeking to develop Lonavla in a comprehensive manner, is a distinct and singular contribution.

Don Bosco, Lonavla, owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mr Kotak for proposing the idea and to his team for mentoring and supporting the students and teachers throughout the project. It is grateful to Mr Jeevan Elayath who was a liaison between the Don Bosco Management and JM Bakshi group of companies ensuring that the project sees the light of day.