Guwahati: Tired of waiting for government help, villagers of Puniya Gaon No. 1 in Assam’s Darrang district have decided to come together and build a road connecting them to the outside world.
On a hot summer day, hundreds of villagers got down to road building - deploying pull carts carrying soil and gravel, and shoveling a 1 km mud track of the almost 25 km long road connecting the bordering districts of Darrang and Udalguri.
“This road has been lying neglected since Independence. We can’t take patients to hospital in an ambulance as the roads are not motorable. It’s an agrarian village, but we have no means to carry our produce to the market. Sometimes, we have to carry the load on our head. Even a bicycle can’t move along this path,” said Khaibar Mandal, a resident of Puniya Gaon.
Most of the road goes through the three constituencies of Kalaigaon, Mongoldoi and Dolgaon in Darrang district. About 80-100 families living along this stretch contributed whatever they could to build the road, and managed to raise Rs 20,000 to buy construction material.
“We are building this road with our own income. Congress MLA from Dolgaon constituency, Ilias Ali, never found time to take note of our concerns,” said another villager, Habibur Ahmed.
One of the villagers alleged that the funds under NREGA scheme for constructing roads are being misused by the Panchayat.
“Crores of rupees are amassed by Fakirpara Panchayat for road construction, but not being used to repair our road. During monsoon, we can’t even step out for daily work or transport the agricultural produce to the Kharupetia market,” said Mafidul Islam.
Like Mafidul, a number of vegetable farmers are incurring losses for want of a motorable road in the village. Villagers alleged that road communication in this part of Assam has failed to introduce ‘vikas’ and ‘parivartan’ as promised by the BJP-led NDA government.
With monsoon approaching and only a kilometre of repair work being done, some of the villagers have threatened to launch a protest if the entire road is not mended by authorities at the earliest.
(With inputs from Nabajyoti Mahanta)