FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDEnt
silchar, February 9: There are still villages in the district of Cachar which continue to reel under problems of communication and other basic facilities of life even after 67 years of Independence. The questions which are often raised in public forum veer round the allotment of huge fund for schemes and projects from time to time by the Centre and the State. Along with that hypes are also created about welfare works by the government. On grounds, people particularly of the rural areas face the harsh reality of being subjected to deprivation and forced to live under grueling situation and circumstances.
Baghkhal under Lakhipur constituency of Cachar is a glaring example of it. The people inhabiting the area, being less educated and knowledgeable, have no effective means or media to ventilate their grievances. Their representatives in the Parliament and state Assembly are out of reach. The MLA who continued to represent them for more than 30 years never showed up his face. So was the MP who could hardly find time to meet his people who voted him to power. Often, they take to the streets and air their grievances before the media with no takers from the administration or the state.
In fact, the gaon panchayat of Jirighat under which falls Baghkhal is quite backward in all respects due to its being far away from the district and sub–divisiol headquarters. People have to accept hardships and difficulties as a fait accompli for their existence as human beings. The villagers have to live in darkness after dusk as there is no electricity. They have to survive on rain water or river water. The river Barak being 3 km away, women folk have to trudge long way to fetch water for drink, wash and bath. Worst, the villagers live virtually marooned as there is no communication.
The cluster of villages dotting Baghkhal have no link with the NH 37 Highway that links Silchar with Imphal. The health structure is in reality non existent though the former health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, once gloated over his statement of reaching health services to each and everyone in the state of Assam. Still unbelievable, people have to reach Lakhipur and Silchar by crossing a river by boat. In that process, their first destition is Jiribum under Manipur state. From there, they have to take to tiol Highway. It cannot but put all sensible persons to shame.
The recent laying down of the foundation of a concrete bridge over Jiri river is expected to solve the communication problem, if it is at all completed. One need not travel through Manipur to reach his destition in Assam. It has been reported by the elderly people that some unscrupulous elements of Manipur often create obstacles in the movement of these poor and helpless residents of Baghkhal and keep them disconnected. It has also been voiced with concern that the students have to skip their classes in schools due to the restrictions on movement.
The representatives of 2 NGOs, Kiron Unyan Sangstha and Youths Against Social Evils, visited the areas under Baghkhal and recorded the unheard of agonies and pains as well as pangs of the people and in their memorandum to the Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, sent through the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar have forcefully argued for the redressal of the problems. They hope and expect the state government would at last pay attention to their plight and initiate concrete action plan for immediate implementation.