Rifa Deka, Nilakshi M. Daimary, Richa Singh
Malivita is a village under Chirang district of Assam situated about 40 kms from Bongaigaon Town and located along the India-Bhutan border. The village was proposed as a model village by the district Deputy Commissioner’s office in the year 2016-17. Even Rs.11 crores have been sanctioned for 4 projects so far for the village, sources in the village revealed. A team of students from the Royal Global University, Guwahati when visited the village discovered that the village was far from ‘Modi-fication’.
On interacting with the villagers, the students found that the village has a population of about 14 thousand who thrive on agriculture as their main source of livelihood. They face a grave water supply crisis for irrigation, due to absence of public canal systems. The villagers grow paddy, betel nut and mustard which contribute to a huge chunk of their income.
Lack of granaries for surplus storage of agricultural produce leads to washing away of the harvest when water from the Aei, Thaklei, Lankhar and Lalai rivers flood the village during monsoons. “Adequate flood relief funds do not reach the ground level even after the village council raised the issue with the government several times,” said a village teacher Mon Prasad Sharma. The village faces serious power-cut issue throughout monsoons and there are no streetlights in the village which makes the village vulnerable to crimes.
Drinking water which is a necessity to all is not available to the villagers. The deprived villagers sometimes travel as far as 1 to 1.5 kms to fetch a bucket of drinking water. Though a water tank was constructed in the village it is of no use as there is no water supply.
Education is another major area of concern as there are schools only up to the class 7 of which some are privately owned. “The village lacks high schools and other higher educational institutions due to which the villagers send their children to nearby towns and cities,” said another village teacher Mahi Ram Basumatary. This in turn increases the expenditure of the villagers. About 40 to 50 students from the area are studying in Meghalaya, Delhi, Bangalore, Gujarat and other cities.
The village has seen an exodus of people to nearby towns and cities in search of employment opportunities as there are no companies or industries in the area. A few people below the poverty line manage to get a few days of employment due to the ongoing construction work going on in the village. Commutation becomes a problem for the villagers as there is only one route which leads to Bongaigaon town from Malivita. A six to seven km stretch of the road on this route, between Koila Moila and Ananda bazar has been destroyed by overloaded dumpers carrying about 30 to 35 tones illegally, the maximum loading capacity is 12 tones.
Healthcare scenario of the village is also concerning as the nearest hospital is 13kms away from the village in Amteka. The demand for a hospital in the village is snubbed by the authorities, expressed some villagers.
Furthermore, petrol is sold illegally to in the village, Rs 10 is charged extra per litre. Even the subsidized gas cylinders are sold with a carrying charge which increases the price of Gas Cylinders.
The majority population in Malivita comprises of the Bodo community followed by Nepalis, Rajbonshis, Adivasis and Bengalis. Inspite of the diverse cultural background these villagers respect all cultures and live in harmony. Though the region is infamous for insurgency, the villagers are united to combat any communal issues but Malivita urgently requires government apathy or else the history has always explained that the cause of all insurgency is negligence and unemployment.