Rural polls enter third phase

The Telegraph brings to the fore the plight of a village in Dhubri district whose decades-old demand for a road has found no takers in the corridors of power

Dhubirchar (Dhubri district), Feb. 5: For six months during the rainy season this island, nestled between the Brahmaputra and the Gadadhar, is cut off from the mainland.

The demand of the island's villagers for a road from Dhubri zila parishad to Samsan Mondir, which will link the village to Dhubri town the year around and expedite its development, has been pending for decades. The island, separated from Dhubri town by the Gadadhar, has also been demanding a bridge from the village upto Samsan Mondir to link it with GTB Road.

The road to prosperity is not the only basic facility missing in this village under Dharmasala anchalik gaon panchayat of Dhubri district.

"There is no middle English school, no Anganwadi centre, no drinking water facility, no Indira Awas Yojana houses sanctioned during the last five years, no public health centre, no veterinary sub-centre or agriculture sub-centre, forcing people to walk miles for work or to avail any service," said Korban Ali Khan, the president of Dhubirchar Unnayan Committee.

The elections have now provided Dhubirchar a chance to get back at the powers that be with the war cry: No development, no vote. They have decided to refrain from exercising their franchise on February 12, the third and concluding phase of the panchayat polls that got under way on January 30.

The committee, which has been spearheading the movement against lack of development, brought the pathetic living conditions in the village to the notice of the district administration recently.

Ashok Choudhury, a villager, alleged that no efforts had been made to develop the village despite it being close to historically important sites and busiest Dhubri ghats like Pahar Ghat, Netai Dhubin Ghat, Ashoka Austami Mela Field, Panch Peer Dargah and Samsan Mondir.

Khan, while resenting the lack of initiative by successive governments and local legislators and panchayat members for development of the village, alleged that the absence of a road had deprived Dhubirchar and neighbouring four to five villages of fire tender and 108 medical emergency (Mritunjoy) services. He alleged that no benefits whatsoever under various schemes had reached the village which had a population of 8,000, more than 70 per cent of which belonged to the Schedule Castes.

Saber Ali, a villager from Falimarichar Part II, a contiguous village, said, "Only conducting elections and electing representatives at various levels will not serve any purpose unless there is a commitment towards fulfilling our basic needs. The demands raised by the committee are justified."

AIUDF candidate Ajia Khatoon, who is contesting for the post of a gaon panchayat ward member from Falimarichar village, said her mission was to fight for the development of Falimari and neighbouring villages. She said negligence by those at the helm of affairs since Independence.

For now, however, Khatoon and her ilk have to overcome the villagers' threat to boycott polls.

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