DOOMDOOMA, April 27 - Even after 72 years of Independence, Sadiya sub-division in Tinsukia district is still languishing as the most neglected region of the state.
The Brahmaputra with its tributaries, particularly Kundil, is still a major threat to the landmass. Consistent land aggression by neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh too has turned out to be a bone of contention for the people residing along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, besides inter-state militancy.
Though the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Setu has connected land-locked Sadiya with the rest of the country, it did not bring much respite other than communication. Dingy boats are still the only mode of transport in several cluster of villages across the vast riverine plains of Sadiya.
In view of its remoteness, the legislators and politicians along with Government officials made Sadiya a haven of corruption which remained unaccountable till date. Inflicted with acute developmental crisis despite flow of Government funds, the people of Sadiya are now up in arms for their legitimate rights. Among innumerable issues concerning power, health and education, the border demarcation issue with Arunachal Pradesh, land patta and erosion were significantly highlighted.
In an interactive programme held at Sadiya Circuit House recently with members of Tinsukia District Journalists Association (TDJA), some leading and senior citizens of Sadiya expressed their strong resentment for not addressing any issue seriously other than false commitments by the government.
In the backdrop of Assam forest land being encroached upon by Arunachal Pradesh, Munindra Buragohain recalled that when NEFA was created in 1951, the border with Sadiya in Assam was not demarcated, following which Arunachal Pradesh took possession of several hundred hectares of land in a phased manner and started cultivating tea after driving out the existing Assamese settlement.
It was also revealed in the meeting that 50 per cent of the 7,268 hectares of land of Sadiya Deopani and Kundil Kulia Reserve Forest was either encroached upon or grabbed by Arunachalees.
This was possible due to neglect by the successive state governments, Buragohain alleged. He also informed that there were frequent inter-border clashes which resulted in murder of numerous Assamese people. He demanded that the border dispute be resolved amicably in order to ensure peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours.
Some other aggrieved citizens also voiced their concern over the negligence of the state Revenue Department in respect of issuance of land record documents. It was alleged that since 1986, the Government stopped issuing land pattas even as the Mauzadars were accused of collecting revenue at enhanced rate by keeping the land owners in the dark.
Sadiya Superintendent of Police Biswajit Deori while commenting on the inter-state boundary dispute said that human aggression being a natural phenomenon, can be mitigated through peaceful understanding between the two parties.
Continuous erosion by Kundil river, an important tributary of the Lohit flowing through the alluvial plains of Sadiya has been a major threat to Panchmile, Bogoribari and adjacent areas in Sadiya, including NH-37 that connects the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Setu.
Balijan, it may be mentioned, flows parallel to river Kundil and meets Kundil at Kaliapani. Both Balijan and Kundil together have been creating havoc during every monsoon over the years. Though Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal during his visit to the Kundil riverside in 2017 assured to undertake dredging work to prevent change its course and check soil erosion, the Kundil river during the past two years has eroded several hundred bighas of land even as the CM�s commitment remains unfulfilled till date. Gopinath Buragohain, Safikul Ahmed and others opined that the Government must initiate urgent steps to stop erosion by the Kundil river which had already rendered several families homeless after changing its course and now flowing very close to NH-37, or else the geographical entity of Sadiya will disappear from the map in another decade. Further, even the bridge over the river Kundil has remained half-done, they rued.
Around 40 villages in west Sadiya have no proper road connectivity with Chapakhowa, the sub-divisional headquarter. The villagers had been persistently demanding a bypass and a bridge over Dichayet Kundil, but their demands have thus far fallen on deaf ears, alleged Nripen Saikia. Taking advantage of the indifferent attitude of the local administration, unscrupulous elements have encroached upon a considerable portion of Government land. Out of 142 bighas of Sadiya Civil Hospital, as much as 92 bighsa has already been encroached, while a major portion of Chapakhowa Daily Market too has been grabbed, alleged Saikia.
Citing illegal and uncontrolled extraction of huge quantity sand and stone from Deopani-Dibang riverbeds on the Arunachal side being a major cause of erosion on the Assam side, the speakers alleged that the Forest Department in Assam in active connivance with its Arunachal Pradesh counterpart have been involved in major corruption.
Not surprisingly, better healthcare is still a distant dream for the people of Sadiya, the birth place of legendary physician Dr Bhubaneswar Baruah. A deplorable health scenario prevails in Sadiya. The much-hyped 100-bed civil hospital at Chapakhowa is still incomplete, while a model hospital at Gumtibeel is yet to be functional, informed Gunin Hazarika.
Even though Sadiya is a sub-divisional headquarter, most of the Government offices are yet to be functional. A permanent sub-inspector of school was not appointed, and even if appointed, the official allegedly runs the office from Tinsukia.
Unparalleled corruption in implementation of Central Government schemes under the Panchyat Raj system were also doing the rounds. Though crores of rupees had been pumped into Sadiya, most of the beneficiaries whose names figured in the list were either conveniently deprived or fake, alleged Nripen Saikia.