GOALPARA, April 1 - A drive of around 14 kms from Agia to Thakurbilla along luscious greenery on the foot of north Garo hills on the southern side of Goalpara district through the Balijana-Borjhora road on the Assam-Meghalaya border and then right towards the northern side on to the Thakurbilla-Maladhara road brings one to Messpara, a sleepy hamlet of around 30 families with 150 (approx) members at Magho Pt III under Dodan panchayat of Lakhipur Revenue Circle under Goalpara West Assembly constituency. Messpara is a village steeped in poverty and deprivation.
A dilapidated bridge across Jinjiram river which is unsafe for even pedestrians stands on its way to the village on the kutcha Thakurbilla-Maladhara road. A road diversion across the river Jinjiram leaves all the vehicles to precariously navigate across the river gravel bed during the dry season which becomes non-motorable during the rainy season. This is a place which one might not be able to locate on the Google map easily or find its name on the official records of revenue villages in the district.
Talking to the villagers, this correspondent found that contrary to the high-sounding words of politicians and the administration alike, there is no development and good governance. The area is flood-prone and all the people are engaged in agricultural activities. The younger generation have migrated to others mega cities of the country for work.
While talking to a local villager Amulya Barman, this correspondent found that the area has performed poorly on all social indicators ranging from education to other basic amenities. No government schemes to aid the villagers to ameliorate their economic and financial condition has till date been implemented in this area. Although there is power supply for domestic use, but there is no access to proper health care facilities so health indicators like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, immunization etc., are not known and the area is also prone to high-risk pregnancies. Health care becomes a burden for these poverty-stricken villagers. People take the help of traditional practitioners or faith healers under the circumstances. The main kutcha road becomes a muddy track during the monsoon season while the students have to use rafts made from trunks of banana trees to cross the river Jinjiram for attending their classes at Thakurbilla LP School located on the other side of the river.
There is only one functional tubewell provided by the government. There is no implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) nor any schemes under Employment Assurance Schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aimed at providing 100 days of wage employment for building social infrastructure like roads, bridges, tanks etc., even though all the households have job cards. Barman also mentioned that as far as he remembers only one villager received financial assistance way back in the 90s under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) for construction of his house and a few years back Rs 1 lakh was granted under MLA development fund for repairing the dilapidated bridge across river Jinjiram. The place does not have a fair price shop.
Also, while driving through the Balijana-Borjhora road, this correspondent noticed that at a place name �Gosai Ga Dhawa� under Balijana panchayat people were using water from the streams flowing down the hills for their daily chores besides using it for drinking water. When asked, the local people responded they were unaware of any schemes for providing safe drinking water despite the existence of a water supply pumping station at Silchak Domal nearby covering around 60 households of two villages.
Talking to this correspondent Agia Gaon Panchayat president, Sadhona Sangma said that there are many problems, but she specifically mentioned the delay in release of funds under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) despite giving the GI tag. She also said that her panchayat has a sizeable population from the Garo community and they are not able to avail the benefits of several government schemes due to lack of proper land documents.