KOKRAJHAR: Bhutan continues to extend its goodwill gesture for the border people of India, especially in the Datgari area of Chirang and Darrangajuli in Baksa districts of Assam, in many ways.
The Himalayan country has already extended packages of ration and Indian currency notes to border villagers in the Hatisar area of Datgari in Chirang during the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, and now it is helping the border villagers with petrol, diesel, cement and even cleaning up the silted and blocked water streams of villagers.
In a message, Secretary General of Bhutan-India Friendship Association (BIFA-Gelephu Chapter), Ugten Rabten said, "Ever since the first lockdown in India, we have been in constant touch with our counterparts across the border despite the borders being sealed. We understand that more than half the population of Hatisar forest village are in the category of Below Poverty Level (BPL) and more than half of this BPL category were those totally dependent on Gelephu (Bhutan) for their livelihood."
He said after learning about their pathetic condition due to the lockdown, they thought that they must do something, So, after a thorough discussion with their counterparts and in consultation with the local authorities, the BIFA members got together for relief package distribution among vulnerable families whose names they acquired from Hatisar VCDC office and BIFA counterparts headed by Robin Sunar of Ratan Medicals at Datgari.
He said, "We distributed 10 kg rice, 2 litres edible oil, 2 kg dal, 1 kg salt, 2 kg potato and 250 gm dry chilli in a package to 610 families on April 28, in border villages of India."
Rabten said, "Thereafter, we also arranged to exchange INR 1.2 million to help refurbish the small shops of Datgari followed by issue of fuel. Till date we have helped issue 863 litres petrol, 975 litres diesel and 30 litres kerosene. We were also asked if we could help Datgari with 1,000 bags of cement to help foster the progress of soil erosion and protection wall at Datgari weekly market area. After consulting our local authorities we helped issue 500 bags and yet other 500 bags will be issued as soon as the stock arrives from Nganglam. We have again been asked if we could arrange to couple of excavators/fork lands for deployment at Daosri River bank protection site."
The chairman of local VCDC and border people expressed their gratitude to Bhutan for helping the border villagers during the time of crisis. They thanked the BIFA for taking up the local issues of India. Bhutan has also cleared many streams that were being blocked due to heavy erosion and massive siltation on the river bed. The Bhutan authorities have extended support to use excavators to clear the river streams and canals even in Indian side with the help of local authorities.