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Group reveals how a village in GH has been left to fend for itself, seeks help

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Chokpot, June 30: At a time when the world has surged ahead and amenities are passé, a story often comes that literally shakes you off your comfort chair in wonder as to how a village or town so close to modern civilization can be bereft of even basic amenities like water, electricity of even medical care.
This is one of those stories which will make you wonder whether all are equal is what appears to be a society that does not really care.
Welcome to the village of Dajigre, a hamlet just about 35 kms away from the modernity of the town of Tura, the biggest one in the entire Garo Hills region, which has literally been living in the dark ages despite this proximity.
The village falls under the Chokpot C&RD Block and has about 47 households and a population close to 300 whose story a team from Achik Conscious Holistically Integrated Krima (ACHIK) recently brought to light.
The team was invited by the villagers who wanted someone to listen to the plight they faced on a daily basis. While the team worked a schedule for the visit, the arduous journey that they had to undertake is a different story altogether.
“Six of us from our NGO visited the village after hearing their complaints. They told us they don’t have a road, no real sources of income, no clean water or even electricity. We thought this was just an exaggeration by the villagers but still decided to visit thinking that if this really was the case, we needed to do something for the villagers,” informed ACHIK president, Thomas Marak.
The ACHIK team consisted of Thomas, Brejio Marak, Mathew Marak, Hamrash Marak, Tangsime Sangma and Meby Marak, all part of the leadership of the organization.
“We left Tura and travelled towards Chokpot. Upon reaching Sangkini, we turned right and from there we travelled till where our vehicles could take us. The distance to the village is about 8 kms from Sangkini, which is the closest medical centre for not only Dajegre but also other hamlets around the place,” added Brejio Marak, co-chairman.
The 6 member group then travelled at least the last hour on foot as there was no other way to get to Dajegre – that could be covered by a vehicle.
“There was another route through Asakgre but that road too is literally inaccessible during this time (monsoon). So we decided to take the short cut and walk the way,” said Tangsime.
After walking along with residents of the village who had come to receive them near Sangkini, ACHIK members arrived at the village and immediately felt they had left modernity far behind.
Chokpot is currently represented by Sengchim Sangma of the NPP and was earlier led by the Congress’s Lazarus Sangma but the story of neglect of Dajegre precedes even these representatives by decades. “The villagers have no proper roads to speak of and we could find only a few reminders that the village actually even existed in the development map of the country. Only a handful of MGNREGA projects could be seen, most of which were already in a state of distress,” added Thomas.
The village headman, Entry Ch Marak, was there to welcome the group.
“We walked around the area and found no sign of any health care facility. The village only has one government LP school which only has one teacher for the 5 different classes. There are a total of 60 students in the school who have no further access to higher education barring just basic primary education,” added Brejio.
The villagers informed the group that the closest medical centre is more than 7-8 kms away at Sangkini and if there were emergencies (childbirth, accidents) the victims had to be carried through the inhospitable terrain on makeshift stretchers for the entire distance.
“This is a gross violation of human rights to say the least. Access to education, livelihoods and medical facilities, which we take for granted, are luxuries these people can hardly afford. Over decades, these people have been suffering and there is no one to even hear their pleas for help,” stated Thomas.
The villagers informed that they have reached out to everyone for help but no one has been forthcoming.
“Us coming to their village was like a huge thing as they finally found someone to vent their desperations on,” added Thomas.
The village earlier had electricity but that luxury has now gone from their grasp over the past 3 years and no one knows why. “The electric poles can still be seen but there has been no connection in the village ever since it was disrupted more than 3 years ago. No amount of pleading has been able to restore their line. It is similar to the problem of access to clean drinking water. There are no pipelines connecting the village to clean water. These people have been managing drinking water through pipelines that tap into streams. Unfortunately, the monsoons have not been too kind as water becomes dirty,” added another member, Meby.
Ironically, the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) dashboard shows the village of Dajegre almost entirely being connected through Functional Household Tap Connections (FHTC) (44 out of 47). However there were absolutely no signs of any form of pipelines even being drawn.
The ACHIK team has now appealed to those in the district and state administration to look closely into the woes being faced by the people of Dajegre and bring them closer to development.
“We are sure there are other villages too that are faced with a similar predicament and we will, in the coming days, try and reach out to them. We want the people of Dajegre to be given what is rightly their due – clean water, access to quality education, a functional road and medical facilities. It is alarming that despite India achieving 78 years of independence, these people are still stuck in the dark ages – despite being so close to modernism,” felt the NGO members.

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