The Telegraph travels to a gaon panchayat in underdeveloped Dhubri district that is thinking, and planning, big
Jhagrarpar (Dhubri), Feb. 8: This is one gaon panchayat that has dared to look beyond the basic amenities and think big — satellite township big.
The contestants of Jhagrarpar gaon panchayat are not harping on the basic “rural” issues of roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothing and shelter) but actually campaigning for completion of a much-awaited medical college, development of the Jhagrarpar Beel to make it a tourist attraction and conversion of the area into a satellite township, among other things.
The gaon panchayat under the Gauripur anchalik panchayat has a population over 25,000 and has 12,000-odd voters.
Located between Dhubri and Gauripur towns, it is expanding fast and increasingly becoming a part of greater Dhubri, as it houses the Dhubri civil hospital, the radio station, Dhubri BEd College, the stadium (Dhubri sports complex and indoor stadium), FCI godown, ASEB warehouse with a power transmitting centre and Jhagrarpar Beel. It is also well connected by road with NH31.
Early completion of the Dhubri Medical College, the foundation stone for which was laid by chief minister Tarun Gogoi before the Assembly elections in 2011, is one of the main poll planks here, though all candidates have USPs that would do their urban counterparts proud.
Arjun Chandra Nath, a former anchalik panchayat member of Jhagrarpar gaon panchayat and seeking re-election as an Independent candidate, said most of the important establishments in and around Dhubri town today were located here and some more were likely to come up soon.
“Some Independent candidates and I are campaigning particularly on the demand for early completion of the Dhubri Medical College as opening of the institution would pave the way for speedy development of this entire area and create huge employment opportunity, as unemployment is a big issue here,” he said.
Another candidate, Abu Sayed Ahmed, said in order to develop the villages, construction of a panchayat bhawan was a must to create a meeting ground for the villagers where they could articulate their problems.
“There is not a single place in the village where a few hundred people can sit together and discuss their problems or hold any meeting or function. If elected, I will lay emphasis on building a bhawan as every gram panchayat is supposed to have one,” he said.
Rousanara Bibi, who is in the fray for an anchalik panchayat seat from Jhagrarpar village, is keen on ensuring speedy development of the lake.
“The beel has huge potential to be developed into a tourist spot, with water sports and other activities along with income-generating activities like duck-rearing for unemployed women of the villages,” she said.
Bidyut Bhattacharjee, a young social activist of Khalilpur village under Jhagrarpar gaon panchayat, has even bigger plans. He wants to develop the gaon panchayat into a satellite township, given its proximity to Dhubri and Gauripur.
“I, along with many youths, have been campaigning and demanding development of this gaon panchayat into a satellite township under the Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (Pura) scheme of the government. We have to think big, beyond roti, kapda aur makan or we will be left behind,” he said.
He said a Rs 66-lakh project in Khalilpur village was being implemented under NREGA for improvement of drainage and roads for last two years and already Rs 15 lakh have been spent on it.