Tejesh Tripathy

Flood victim Gita Arya making bamboo baskets beside her hut at No. 2 Jamdoha in Bongaigaon district. – Photo: Bongaigaon Correspondent


BONGAIGAON, March 5: Flood victims taking shelter beside a road at No. 2 Jamdoha in Bongaigaon district are a confused lot over which political party they should vote for in the forthcoming Assembly election.

Over 100 families from No. 1 Jaraguri and Jamdoha were displaced after they lost their homes and hearth to unabated river bank erosion by the Aie river, i.e., in June last year.

Some of the seemingly fortunate families whose small plots were spared from the annual land-gobbling nightmare, have since returned to their native places in November last year without getting any rehabilitation package from the government, though promised by those in the corridors of power during their formal visit to the camp at No. 2 Jamdoha.

However, the rest of the 70 flood affected families are still residing in their corrugated iron sheet-covered huts over a 4-km road stretching from Gerukabari till the Aie river, across Jamdoha.

Victims of circumstances, they are compelled to drink tubewell water containing a very high percentage of iron. They admittedly answer the call of nature and relieve themselves out in the open or in makeshift facilities as most of the toilets set up beside the road for them have been clogged, said Shyam Arya (42), a flood victim and a resident of No. 1 Jaraguri.

He was a marginal farmer in his village till the eventful day of his life when he was left homeless, though today he is a daily wage earner. He has obviously lost total confidence on the political parties because of their devil-could-care-no-less attitude and perennial false promises, and is unclear which party to favour in the ensuing Assembly election.

Gita Arya (40), a flood victim and a resident of No.1  Jaraguri, was busy making bamboo baskets beside her hut near the road at No. 2 Jamdoha. As she lost her home and everything in it to the swirling waters, hence she cannot return to her native village. Though she had been expecting a rehabilitation package from the government like the others, but to no avail.

She supports her family by making and selling bamboo baskets while her husband is a daily wage earner. She is still confused as to whom to patronise in the upcoming Assembly election. She and her ilk are still wondering as to which candidate or party would spare a thought for people like them and perhaps sanction a suitable rehabilitation package for them after the polls.

“The Union government’s inter-ministerial team had indeed visited their relief camp twice. The Bongaigaon deputy commissioner along with ministers Phani Bhusan Choudhury and Kesab Mahanta had also visited the spot several times though they have utterly failed to rehabilitate us and address our pressing basic needs, which is most unfortunate for poor people like us”, the aggrieved flood victims lamented.

“Food and Civil Supplies Minister Phani Bhusan Choudhury during his visit had promised us to provide ration for 3 months, but we got it only for 18 days. How can we repose faith on such a Minister”, asked Jatan Rajbongshi, a local resident of Jamdoha.

“The central inter-ministerial team members did not even deem it necessary to interact with us and know about our collective plight during their visit. They only talked with the deputy commissioner and avoided us totally. Do such visits serve any purpose,” questioned some youths at the camp.

According to the local residents of Jamdoha, former legislator from Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Bhupen Ray had visited the flood victims of Jamdoha and Jaraguri as these villages fall under Abhayapuri North Assembly seat.

On the contrary, the sitting legislator from the Congress party, Abdul Hai Nagori has never cared to take stock of the flood victims’ plight during his entire tenure, they alleged.