| Bhagalpur divisional commissioner Minhaj Alam plants a mango sapling in Dharhara village. Picture by Amit Kumar |
A frail-looking woman was sobbing outside her thatched hut on Saturday while her entire village celebrated World Environment Day.
Manti Devi (62) was mourning the death of her granddaughter Rani Kumari, after whom former chief minister Nitish Kumar had planted a mango sapling in Dharhara village last year. The village was celebrating World Environment Day on Saturday, two days after it is observed across the globe, in the presence of senior district officials, who had come from Bhagalpur district headquarters located on the other side of Ganga.
“I lost my one-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter on April 10 because we couldn’t provide her proper medical care in the village. Rather than celebrating World Environment Day, the officials should think of ways to improve health facilities here,” Manti Devi said.
According to villagers, district officials have not completed the welfare projects Nitish had outlined for the village in 2013. Nitish had instructed officials concerned to upgrade the health centre in the village to an additional primary health centre (PHC) with six beds and had also asked to renovate the Gopalpur PHC, around 6km from the village.
Rani’s distraught parents — Munni Devi and Pramod Kumar, a landless daily wage earner — lambasted the officials for their failure to improve basic amenities in the village. “The departure of Nitishji has stalled development in this village. Officials concerned have not yet fulfilled the basic requirement of the village,” said Pramod.
Nitish had been visiting Dharhara on the occasion of World Environment Day since 2010 after he came to know about the village’s tradition of planting mango saplings on the birth of a girl.
But he never visited the village on June 5, World Environment Day. He usually came a day or two later.
Nitish had declared Dharhara a model village, ideal for encouraging women’s empowerment and spreading education awareness among girls.
Rani, in whose name, Nitish had planted a mango sapling last year, died of diarrhoea. Her family members said had there been proper medical facilities available in the village, her life could have been saved.
Bhagalpur divisional commissioner Minhaj Alam, who was the chief guest at the event in Dharhara, said: “We have decided to convert the health centre into a six-bed additional PHC and also to renovate Gopalpur PHC soon.