SILCHAR, April 17: After independence of the country, the people of the remote and isolated villages living in the upfront of Barak River in the Lakhipur sub division of Cachar have the rare and first opportunity to see and interact with MLA Rajdeep Goala last Wednesday. Before that neither any MP or MLA elected on their votes took the trouble to reach them, perhaps considering the rough and difficult journey by boat and on foot. It was no doubt a moment of happiness for these unfortute people, a mix of tribals, non-tribals and SC communities.
It is really most unfortute that even after 67 years of independence, these villages identified as Mankhoosh, Shanbari, rainji, Alni, riandahar, Bonkhal, raiandahar tea garden and various other hamlets come out the story of pains and agonies of people. They have been a mute witness to their long and untold sufferings and exploitation and treated as vote-banks by the political class. Funds uccounted allotted for development never were utilized.
Notwithstanding the allotment of huge funds by the Centre for the implementation of various schemes and projects for the welfare and improvement of socio-economic condition of people of remote and far-flung areas of the region, the reality on the ground is not only appalling but also baffling, raising the question about their utilization.
People who assembled in the premises of Sanbari LP School all in unison vented out their long felt grievances about their being denied the basic facilities of life. There is neither drinking water provision, road communication, health structure nor electrification. Located without any means of communication from the main land of Lakhipur, the boat or launch ride is the only way to reach the isolated villages and hamlets, perched in the thick forested areas interspersed with plains and hilly patches.
No semblance of development can be visible in these areas. All that one comes across is some incomplete schemes or those which after laying the foundation have never seen the light of day. Some of them are lying abandoned in a most uncared of situation. It is a tale of deprivation and neglect. The people do have gaon panchayats as well as anchalik panchayats and even block development office in the town of Lakhipur, but hardly they are concerned with their problems. Their ignorance and illiteracy are being exploited by the leaders who have been masquerading themselves as their well wishers. They have no other option than to live with distress and the inevitable fate.
The elders recall the visit by the then PHE Minister, Dinesh Prasad Goala, only once in 2009 to iugurate the Alnee PHE plant which just after supplying water for 15 days became inoperative and it has now turned into a junk. People have to depend upon river Barak and hilly streams in order to meet their need of portable water.
In the me of electrification, the sign boards are seen hanging up in all the villages and that speak of the achievement under Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Bidyutikaran. The sign boards were put up in 2005 and they continue to tell their own sad story, complain the people. Ramesh Bagti, Dhyan Chanda Chakma and Min Paslien, gaon burah of rayandahar Khasipunji, sum up their living conditions in these words, “We have no roads, electricity, water supply, minimum health services or schools of quality”. They have come to grip with the adversity and live life, depending more on ture and its resources. People have to take the help of launch or country boat to reach Fulertal that connects the NH 53 and PWD road for Silchar and Lakhipur town. During night, people have to cough up to the extent of more than Rs 1,000 for arranging a boat or launch to come to the nearest centre of treatment located around Fulertal and Pailapool.
Quite pathetic, a 4 km stretch of road connecting the greatest Hmar village of Assam, Hmarkhawlein, with Shanbari, Nijalnee, Alnee and rayanji Khasiapunji approved by PWD (rural division) in 1952 did not get any attention. It was in 2008-09 that the PWD department sent the proposal to Dispur for sanction of necessary fund, but it remained on file. Interestingly, a bridge was constructed in the Hmarkhawlein village for the said road. It is lying without any utility. Another 4 km road connecting Dilkhoosh with rayandahar bagan through Monkhoosh and Bonkhal under NREGS was allotted Rs 5.20 lakh. For the same road, Rs 2.5 crore was sanctioned under PMGRY. But, there is no trace of any work. Nor is any explation there officially about the utilization of fund.
The story everywhere is the same. The scerio becomes more painful as one goes up to interior places like Dupidar, Kankhum, Makhal, Bonkokhal and Jakuradar. The people look helpless and hopeless as they have none to listen to them and redress their agonies. After listening to their agonies and pains, Rajdeep Goala, assured them of his best of attention to redress their grievances so that they live a better life. One hopes it will be no hoping against hope