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The border hamlet that lives in a blind spot

Women draw water from the Ukti river

It’s a tale of untold woes for the people living in Umsur, a tiny hamlet along the Assam-Meghalaya border in Kamrup district.

The 2,000-odd inhabitants do not have water to drink and adequate medical amenities, let alone high school education, which as of now seems a far cry.

The majority of the inhabitants from the village, about 13km from Chandubi lake, which is over 40km from Guwahati city, are from the Rabha community.

The area is faced with an acute crisis of potable drinking water.

In the absence of tubewells, we have to take the water from the Ukti (that flows by Umsur).

“Apart from drinking its water, we bathe and wash clothes in the river,” Rupam Das, 39, a farmer of Umsur, told The Telegraph.

Worse still, there is a sub-health centre that remains open only on Wednesdays. But this correspondent during a visit to the village had found the lone sub-health centre closed on April 16 (a Wednesday).

The Borduar-Bholagaon unit of All Rabha Students’ Union had called upon the nurses of all the 12 sub-health centres under the area last year to attend their duty regularly but to no avail.

In a sub-health centre, there are two nurses — one regular and the other supplemented by the National Rural Health Mission.

As there is no high school in the village, students have to walk either 12km to Muduki or 18km to Bagan.

Residents here allege that the area on the other side of the border is far more developed.

Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya is about 300km from Umsur, while Dispur is hardly 60km away.

“If Shillong can be serious in developing areas along the border why is Dispur playing second fiddle?” questioned a resident.

The area falls under Gauhati West Assembly constituency, which is one of the 10 LACs that make Gauhati Lok Sabha seat, but also one of the underdeveloped ones.

Sources said the state lacks transparency in execution of schemes unlike its neighbour.

Moreover, communication has become an issue with inhabitants of over 20 villages (including Umsur) of the Mataikhar area suffering a lot owing to the deplorable status of a wooden bridge over the Ukti.

“Both the approaches to the bridge pose a serious threat to the people. The lifeline bridge, constructed a year ago, is a virtual death trap. Elections come and go but our condition remains unchanged. We want change this time,” Kamaleswar Rabha said.

The 7km road from Garilik, 8km from Chandubi, to Umsur, which is the only motorable road in the area, has, however, brought relief to the people.

l Gauhati votes on April 24


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