|Erosion at Choulkhowa Janakalyan ME School.
Picture by Rajiv Konwar
Since the country’s first general election in 1952 no parliamentarian has ever visited this village after winning elections. So many elections have come and gone but Rowmari village in Rowmari sar of the Brahmaputra here has somehow remained outside the ambit of an MPs tour.
For the last 150 years that they have been living here, life has always been difficult. During the monsoon, Borachuba river, a tributary of the Brahmaputra, swells and inundates parts of the village. But the villagers have learnt to live with difficulties. They have even produced a national-level marathon runner, Bipul Saharia, who is currently serving the army.
This time they have one major demand: Construction of a permanent bridge at the spot over the Borachuba river where they construct a temporary bamboo bridge every year after the monsoon to connect the village to the rest of the district.
“Lack of proper communication is a bane for students and patients here. Country boats are the main mode of communication during the rainy season,” said Prabhat Deka, 45, a villager.
Rowmari is just 65km from the state capital, Guwahati, and 20km from the district headquarters, Mangaldoi. Even during the dry season, when the water level recedes, villagers have to walk 5km to reach Borachuba, the nearest place from where vehicles are available to go to other places.
The villagers also demand a full-fledged hospital for them, as the only medical sub-centre in the village cannot cater to their needs.
Jonali Saharia, a school student in the village, said they only have one lower primary and middle English school and those who study in upper primary classes have to go to Borachuba, 5km from their village.“We have to use country boats to go to school which is very risky during the rainy season as the water of the Borachuba river swells to cross the dangerous level,” she said.
Deka said drinking water is also not available in the village. “Villagers manage drinking water on their own. There are three water supply projects lying unused because of poor construction,” he said.
Erosion by a stream of the Brahmaputra has been threatening Janakalyan ME Madrassa in No. 1 Choul-khowa sar (sandbar), nearly 5km from Rowmari sar, since last year.
Minuara Begum, a student of the school, who has not got voting rights yet, is aware of their problems. She said if the government did not take timely steps, her school would be destroyed by the erosion in the coming monsoon.
Mahem Ali, another villager, said the building was constructed by the government a few years ago. “This was the only educational institution in our area which provides education to as many as 300 children,” Ali said.
He said local people had taken initiatives to save the school from erosion during the last rainy season with the help of a local panchayat but funds were insufficient to solve the problem.