After Numerous Failed Promises, UP Village with No Road To Noida Will Boycott Polls
Dalelpur, located 465 km from state capital Lucknow, was a part of Haryana till 1982. In the absence of infrastructure and transport, its residents now demand that the village be reunited with the state.
New Delhi: As a part of Uttar Pradesh goes to polls on April 11, residents of the only village of the state located on the other side of the Yamuna in Haryana have boycotted elections after waiting for a road to connect them to Noida and Greater Noida for five years.
A kilometre from Madanpur Khadar in Delhi, if one starts asking each passerby about the road to Dalelpur village, the only answer is a surprised face indicating a complete lack of knowledge about the village.
One can reach Dalelpur after a ride of 12 km via a mud path along the Yamuna’s edge. The village is home to a few huts and a concrete home with the Tricolour flying high.
A ‘dhaba’, where most people gather to unwind after a day of work, was where villagers had decided to not exercise their franchise in the Lok Sabha elections. Villagers took this call after being plagued with problems that have not been addressed by any political party since the 1980s.
Dinesh Tyagi, a farmer in his late 30s, was the one who had first decided to refrain from voting this year. Dinesh and his five brothers, who voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, had thought this would lead to development in the area. But it has been four years now and there is no “vikas” (development) in sight.
“It’s lucky that we are sitting and speaking here. Even if there is a slight spell of rain, this area becomes an Adivasi land,” said Tyagi.
One of the ways to reach the village is on a sole privately-arranged boat that ferries people between the Yakutpur and Dalelpur sides of the Yamuna. The other is a road trip via Delhi and Faridabad, a journey of 70 km each way.
Manoj Kumar has lived in the village since the early 1990s, when his father shifted from Benaras in search of work. However, they are still labelled “migrants” even though they cast their votes in the previous Lok Sabha and gram panchayat elections as well.
“We have been staying here for almost 35 years. When votes are sought, we are always asked to vote, but when we demand facilities, we are branded as a migrant community with no rights in this village,” said Kumar.
Dalelpur, located 465 km from state capital Lucknow and 21 km from Dankaur dehat, finds itself in the backdrop of a rapidly-developing Greater Noida. Whenever Kumar looks out of his hut, all of this looks like a “dream”.
“Humko toh sapne jaisa lagta hai (it looks like a dream to us),” he says.
Dalelpur was a part of Haryana till 1982, after which it was made a part of Uttar Pradesh. Most of the village now depends on “stolen” electricity from Haryana, which does not work most of the time. Home to almost 280 people, the village has seen a dip in voters – from 190 in 2014 to about 80 to 90 in this election.
Sunder Chhapran’s father had brought him to the village as a child from Ghazipur zilla in Benaras in the 1970s. Now in his late 40s, Chhapran has several identification documents, including voter card, ration card and Aadhaar card, all showing him as a resident of Dalelpur.
Chhapran does not shy away from the fact that the village had voted for the BJP in 2014, but bluntly states that it was due to the “Modi wave”.
“We had all voted for the BJP due to the Modi wave. But it has been four years and no development has taken place. Even the nearest hospital is about 20 km from here, in Faridabad. We hope this village is made a part of Haryana, at least we will get some facilities,” he says.
The Noida administration last week said it has requisitioned another motor boat to ferry voters from Dalelpur across the Yamuna to the polling station and back home. The move came after the owner of the first boat, who was contacted by the administration, said it would be unavailable for service on April 11.
Khushaal Singh, the owner of a motorboat, said he was contacted by authorities but would not be available on the day of polling.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, villagers remember that a boat had been arranged to transport voters to the polling station. But the vehicle did not stay until voting closed.
“We were taken to the polling booth early in the morning by a boat. But by the time we had to return, the boat was gone. Some swam to get back and a few travelled to Faridabad to come here. Uske baad se na koi vote hai, na koi support hai (There has been no vote, no support since). This year we are not repeating the mistake,” says Mahesh Tyagi, another Dalelpur resident.
Most villagers rue the fact that travelling to the city is an arduous task. Those without any means of transportation have to depend either on a few well-off neighbours to drive them to Faridabad or walk a stretch of 12 km.
Mahua, a mother of two, was married at the age of 16 to a village resident. She is extremely proud of both her daughters, who can write English spellings with ease. The children attend a school in Faridabad and their mother now waits for the day she can leave the village.
“Why should any of us vote? Policies and schemes are only announced, but none of them are s for us. Even if we are in pain when delivering a child, we have to either wait for a boat or for someone to take mercy on us and lend us a vehicle,” says Mahua, a veil partially covering her face.
BJP MLA Tejpal Singh Nagar was elected from Dadri constituency while Mahesh Sharma was elected as MP. Villagers, however, feel so neglected that they are even unaware of the candidates in fray this year.
“We don’t know who is contesting this year. We don’t relate to the polls. We have realised that we are completely isolated and that is our fate,” says Chhapran’s mother.
Sharma, a BJP heavyweight, has returned with accounts of his development work ahead of the election. The Congress, meanwhile, is hoping that a young Arvind Kumar Singh will help it to regain a seat it lost in the 1980s. Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Satveer Nagar, a rural favourite, could pull off a victory as the coalition’s face in Gautam Buddh Nagar.
The district is known for its high-rise apartments, expressways, plush corporate offices and the metro rail line in Noida and Greater Noida. The constituency, with a largely rural population spread across 1,186 villages, is also plagued with issues related to land acquisition of farmers, exorbitant fees in private schools, unemployment, flat buyers, and road traffic.
This election is set to witness a battle among parties claiming to create employment opportunities for the youth. But in Dalelpur, most villagers appear to think that they are far from being considered “employment-worthy”.
“Iss Jamna ka kya karein hum? (What do we do with the Yamuna?). How do we cross it every day to reach a workplace or find a training institute?” asks Anil Kumar. “Most of the young fellows have migrated to other places for odd jobs and the ones who stay here have no means to go for a regular job, either for lack of education or transportation.”
A series of accidents during high tide in the river, when boats ferrying vegetables to the markets of Delhi-NCR have capsized, have also led to a loss of earnings for the villagers.
Dalelpur is now a witness to massive construction work on one side, with the railway route of Dadri-Jewar in progress. However, villagers do not see the progress affecting them in any way.
“The railway, at a height of 18 feet, will run only goods trains. There is no station here to facilitate travel. If there was a station here, we would have a way to travel. Even if a temporary bridge can be constructed over the Yamuna, that would have been enough for us,” says Brijesh, an octogenarian.
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