Friday, July 19, 2024

Residents clamour for intervention as Rongtham river cuts off EGH village


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From Our Correspondent

WILLIAMNAGAR, July 1: Residents of the village of Nengkhra Agalgre, just about 100 meters from the NH-62 in the East Garo Hills (EGH) district, have expressed their frustration over the complete lack of attention to their cause despite repeated appeals to their representative, which, they say, have gone completely unheeded.
Nengkhra Agalgre is about 15 kilometers from the town of Williamnagar, the district headquarters, and falls under the same constituency.
The villagers have requested a bridge that allows them to cross the river at all times without risking their lives.
The frustration stems from the village being completely cut off from the rest of the state due to the rising level of the Rongtam River, following incessant rains over the past few weeks.
The river waters have reached dangerous levels, causing concern and making crossing the river a life-threatening endeavor.
According to the locals, the village remains isolated for about one month every year, resulting in children missing school and locals being deprived of access to medical facilities, work, and sometimes even food.
“We are truly frustrated by what happens every year. We literally have to risk our lives just to get food or send our children to schools, which are on the other side of the Rongtam River. Imagine if someone falls seriously ill. How do we carry that person through such strong currents on a makeshift stretcher through raging, neck-deep water?” questioned local resident Silchi N Sangma, the president of AHAM, Nengkhra unit.
Furthermore, the village also connects the villages of Bolmoram and Dobu Chitimbing.
It has about 70 households and a population of close to 300. Their primary sources of income are agriculture, plantations, and occasional job cards work. A visit to the outskirts of the village showed a raging Rongtam River, with schoolchildren waiting for their parents near the banks to be carried through the neck-deep waters.
Interestingly, the villagers now say that the water level has receded. “For about one month every year, we remain cut off from the rest of the world, and our children have to go without education. Many times during this deluge, when the water increases, we have to go without food as the river is too dangerous to cross. As residents of the state, can we be left without support in this way?,” asked a resident, Bealish N Marak.
The villagers maintained that their problem was not new.
“We submitted a memorandum to the local MLA, Marcuise Marak, in March this year, but there has been no reply at all. Besides the written complaint, there have been many verbal reminders to our current and former MLAs. However, there has been no response, and we don’t know who else we need to approach for this,” informed Jemel Marak, another resident.
Most of them expressed haplessness about their situation and wondered whether there was any end to their darkness.
“We have no school in our village, which means that we have to risk our lives to ensure that our children get access to education. It is similar for us when we want to get food during these times. We just want to live a normal life and that, for now, seems out of the question. During elections, they brave the elements to come to us but after elections they seem to forget we exist,” informed Sordar of the village, Joreng K Sangma.
Early Monday morning, social media was filled with images and videos of fathers carrying their children across the raging Rongtam on their shoulders to allow them to get to schools. They were in neck-deep waters, braving the dangers.
“Sometimes, our husbands go to work to tend to our gardens and plantations and at that time we are the ones who have to carry our children on our shoulders. This is beyond what we can manage, but circumstances have prompted us mothers to do this. We just want you to understand our plight and take appropriate steps to alleviate our problems,” said Ciodiss Marak.
The villagers, all 300 of them, have urged the government to look into their issue and, on a war footing, look at building a bridge to allow them to cross the river without risking their lives.
“We are willing to provide sand and stones for free from our villages to help create this infrastructure, but without it, we will all suffer just like this for ages to come. We hope the government understands what we are going through every year and helps us to connect with the rest of the world,” added AHAM president, Silchi N Sangma.


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