Sipajhar (Darrang district), Feb. 4: Bar-Athiabari is a village not far away from the district headquarters Mangoldoi in Darrang. Its residents are fed-up with panchayat leaders as the village, under Janaram Chowa gaon panchayat, lacks drinking water facilities. Most of the poor families do not have even tubewells.
Of 6,400 villagers under the gaon panchayat, only 400 have access to drinking water.
The villagers also struggle to secure old-age pensions and houses under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY). Paisa nidile eku nidiye (they do not give anything without a bribe), Jiten Saikia, 65, who failed to get his old-age pension, said. The panchayat is 75km from Guwahati.
Himani Saikia, a student, said she found it extremely difficult to go to college during the monsoon because of poor road condition. Though funds have been sanctioned, repair is yet to be completed, she alleged. Hitesh Hazarika, a youth, said there was neither any major achievement nor any scandal during the last five years in the AGP-run gaon panchayat.
The scene is slightly better in Congress-controlled Hazarikapara panchayat where a major section of people living below poverty line enjoy the benefits offered through the panchayat.
It has happened only because of sincerity of our panchayat representatives. We have got an IAY house without any request to our panchayat, Durgeswar Bora, a farmer of Zakuapara area under Hazarikapara gaon panchayat, said.
Villagers Prahlad Deka and Subhash Deka said they had got their BPL cards. The gaon panchayat has more than 6,000 population. It is 15km from Mangoldoi which is 65km from Guwahati. Things started improving in Hazarikapara last year only because of the ensuing elections. It is not that the gaon panchayat had been working for the last five years. They woke up only last year or else we would have got some more facilities.
There are 75 gaon panchayats and 14 zilla parishad members in Darrang district which has a sizeable char (sandbar) area which like most other rural areas remains neglected. The panchayats here go to the polls on Wednesday.