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Meghalaya border villages cry for development

By Staff Correspondent
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RYNGKU (Indo-Bangla border) March 2 - Relief camps are usually held in times of disaster, but the relief camp organised by Bharat Seva Ashram (BSA) at Sonatola recently was necessitated by a perpetual disaster caused by apathy, greed and corruption of a handful.

Sonatola is a hamlet of about 130 households on the Indo-Bangla border. The international fence cuts across the paddy fields of this village resulting in many losing their agricultural land to the other side of the fence.

Hearing about the relief camp hundreds of villagers came rushing for free medicines and clothes. �We hold such relief camps whenever it�s possible. We also provide food during these camps,� Maharaj Damodaran of BSA said.

The elderly came with multiple ailments. There is a small dispensary in the village and a quack running it. The nearest PHC is 14 km away and people dread about medical emergencies. �Even �101� ambulances don�t come here, so people take the sick by whatever means all the way to Balat or Mawsynram,� a villager said.

Reaching the village is a back-crunching ordeal. However, on Google map the travel time shown to reach Sonatola and its adjoining villages by road on the Indo-Bangla border, is just over three hours, but that is far from reality.

The reality is: there is hardly any road worth mentioning beyond Mawsynram, a small town known the world over for its heavy rainfall. In fact, some of the roads adjoining Sonatola were built in the 80s by Border Roads Organisation.

Years of neglect has washed off the roads leaving huge pits, boulders and vegetation. �Ever since the maintenance of the roads was handed over to State PWD the roads were not repaired,� said an elderly villager.

But this has not stopped wannabe politicians to promise every election time for the past several decades nothing short of heaven to these villagers. This time around is no different and aspirants and sitting MLA PN Syiem are all making a beeline to these villages with their broken promises.

One of the aspirants has also distributed CGI sheets to one of these villages begging for their vote. �We don�t want CGI sheets. We want good roads, health care, electricity, water and schools for our children,� a villager said.

The village has a middle level school and students wanting to pursue higher education have to go to Balat, 14 km away. Travelling 14 km is a big problem with no roads, so many have to rent houses in Balat, but for us poor how can we manage,� lamented another villager.

Sadly, many villagers have sent their children to orphanages around the State so that they get at least some education and a better life than in the villages.

�My son works in a hotel in Bengaluru and earns Rs 7,000 monthly. In the village there is no opportunity for livelihood,� another villager at Sonatola said.

The story is the same in several villages in the area like in Cherrakata, Lalpani, Patagat, Maa Kali, Burman Bari. Under such circumstances it is social-religious organisations like Bharat Seva Ashram that have come to the rescue of these villagers and are doing whatever they can with their little resources.

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Meghalaya border villages cry for development

RYNGKU (Indo-Bangla border) March 2 - Relief camps are usually held in times of disaster, but the relief camp organised by Bharat Seva Ashram (BSA) at Sonatola recently was necessitated by a perpetual disaster caused by apathy, greed and corruption of a handful.

Sonatola is a hamlet of about 130 households on the Indo-Bangla border. The international fence cuts across the paddy fields of this village resulting in many losing their agricultural land to the other side of the fence.

Hearing about the relief camp hundreds of villagers came rushing for free medicines and clothes. �We hold such relief camps whenever it�s possible. We also provide food during these camps,� Maharaj Damodaran of BSA said.

The elderly came with multiple ailments. There is a small dispensary in the village and a quack running it. The nearest PHC is 14 km away and people dread about medical emergencies. �Even �101� ambulances don�t come here, so people take the sick by whatever means all the way to Balat or Mawsynram,� a villager said.

Reaching the village is a back-crunching ordeal. However, on Google map the travel time shown to reach Sonatola and its adjoining villages by road on the Indo-Bangla border, is just over three hours, but that is far from reality.

The reality is: there is hardly any road worth mentioning beyond Mawsynram, a small town known the world over for its heavy rainfall. In fact, some of the roads adjoining Sonatola were built in the 80s by Border Roads Organisation.

Years of neglect has washed off the roads leaving huge pits, boulders and vegetation. �Ever since the maintenance of the roads was handed over to State PWD the roads were not repaired,� said an elderly villager.

But this has not stopped wannabe politicians to promise every election time for the past several decades nothing short of heaven to these villagers. This time around is no different and aspirants and sitting MLA PN Syiem are all making a beeline to these villages with their broken promises.

One of the aspirants has also distributed CGI sheets to one of these villages begging for their vote. �We don�t want CGI sheets. We want good roads, health care, electricity, water and schools for our children,� a villager said.

The village has a middle level school and students wanting to pursue higher education have to go to Balat, 14 km away. Travelling 14 km is a big problem with no roads, so many have to rent houses in Balat, but for us poor how can we manage,� lamented another villager.

Sadly, many villagers have sent their children to orphanages around the State so that they get at least some education and a better life than in the villages.

�My son works in a hotel in Bengaluru and earns Rs 7,000 monthly. In the village there is no opportunity for livelihood,� another villager at Sonatola said.

The story is the same in several villages in the area like in Cherrakata, Lalpani, Patagat, Maa Kali, Burman Bari. Under such circumstances it is social-religious organisations like Bharat Seva Ashram that have come to the rescue of these villagers and are doing whatever they can with their little resources.