Maharashtra to have a ‘village of books’ in every district

Initiative seeks to popularise Marathi books and nurture the reading habit

A village of books inspired by the famous town of Hay-on-Wye in Wales, the U.K., will soon be seen in every district of Maharashtra. The initiative takes its cue from a successful pilot project launched in May 2017 in the village of Bhilar near the hill station of Mahabaleshwar. The project seeks to popularise Marathi books and nurture the reading habit.

The State government’s Marathi Language Department on January 4 issued a resolution announcing the ‘Village of Books, Bhilar’ scheme to come up in one village of every district. In the first phase of the scheme, six such villages will be set up in every revenue division. In the second phase, every district will have one such village. Funding of ₹197.90 crore will be spent on the project.

Selection criteria require villages to be connected to tourism, protected monuments and pilgrimages, or sites of literary importance, historical significance, or as centres of agro-tourism. Villages known for their cultural contribution, peaceful coexistence and cleanliness will be prioritised, if residents are ready to cooperate and participate.

The village Gram Panchayat can make available the necessary space (a minimum of ten rooms of 250 sq. ft. each is required), water, electricity, sanitation, etc. The owners of the rooms will be responsible for their maintenance. A monthly report on them will be submitted by the village-level body to the State government.

An eight-committee headed by the Minister of Marathi Language will oversee the project’s implementation. A Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Marathi Language will be the member-secretary.

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