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Sadiya’s Padum villagers to boycott the lotus for ‘lack of development’

SADIYA: Although the proverbial lotus bloomed in Assam in 2016 with the election of the BJP which promised to usher in an ‘age of development’, a village in Upper Assam’s Sadiya Constituency — coincidentally named after the same flower — seems to be withering away with the dust and floods due to the lack of proper facilities.

In a strange twist, Pranab Buragohain, a 65-year-old farmer of the Padum Phula Balijan village, complained that the dilapidated condition of the roads poses a great challenge to ferry ailing villagers to the nearest health facility.

“If someone falls sick, we usually have to ferry them to a healthcare facility on a bullock-driven cart. Floods can wreak absolute havoc on our lives as the children struggle to reach the school.”

He disclosed that the local MLA, Bolin Chetia, has refused to help as “the villagers have not voted for the ruling party.”

“In 15 years, not a single MLA has taken note of our concerns. A couple of youths from the village approached the local MLA asking for a pucca road to be built. However, they were told that since we have not voted, we will not get a road. In reality, in the panchayat election, the Congress candidate received a couple of more votes from the village.”

He further lamented that due to the various challenges posed by the lack of development, the village children have not been able to excel in their studies.

“Up until ten years ago, we did not have a single 10th pass student in our village, which is extremely unfortunate and worrying. However, no MLA or Minister has taken note of these extreme conditions that we are living in, and no solution has been found so far.”

Villagers told InsideNE that during the monsoons, the water rises to the knee. “It becomes extremely difficult during the monsoons. During peak monsoons, this village gets heavily.

Even as the Assam government has launched schemes such as ‘Orunodoi’ to boost ‘female empowerment, the women of this village have largely been deprived.

“We are yet to receive any benefits from the government’s schemes; even though a couple of people have received benefits, they are the ones who are connected to the political parties,” said Manasi Buragohain, a village housewife.

She further complained that pregnant women face great difficulties ahead of child birth as there are no facilities in the village.

“We have to take them on either bullock carts or hand-driven carts. However, during monsoons, they have to be carried on the back as vehicles cannot be plied. This causes distress to both the mother and the unborn child.”

Students in the village have complained that the lack of a pucca road can be a major inconvenience, especially during the monsoon floods.

Mary Buragohain, a class 10 student, who studies in a school in the 7-Mile area roughly 3 kilometres away, says that she has to carry extra clothing with her during the monsoons.

“It is because our clothes get wet when we have to wade through water. When we emerge on the other side of the flooded area, we have to change our clothes. And moreover, the roads can get really muddy, which causes us greater difficulties,” she told InsideNE.

Pranab Buragohain says that the disillusioned villagers are going to “boycott” the ruling party as none of their long-standing concerns have been addressed by any politician.

“Because of this, we tend to feel like strangers on our own land. We are boycotting the BJP as it seems like there will be no end to our worries no matter who comes to power,” he said.

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