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Border residents vote for ‘transformation’

Basic amenities a far cry for localities under Kamarkuchi GP

From Saurav Borah

BURNIHAT: Voters under Kamarkuchi gaon panchayat along the Assam-Meghalaya border queued up from early morning on Wednesday, with the hope that their vote brings about a transformation in the form of basic amenities, most of which have eluded them for far too long.

The gaon panchayat under Kamrup metro district comprises a population mix from Karbi, Garo, Nepali and Boro communities.

Nobinson Kro, a social worker and resident of Tamulikuchi in the 13 Mile area, rued that the border area was still plagued with problems of kuccha roads/byelanes, rickety/dilapidated wooden bridges, clogged drains and scarcity of drinking water.

“There is nothing here in the name of development. Roads have been a problem since an age and such has been the apathy from the district administration that a flood-damaged wooden bridge over which vehicles ply to Adengiri Garo Basti (an interior locality), had to be repaired by the people of the area this year. There was an unprecedented flood this year owing to a narrow, clogged drain, which is encroached by structures as well, on the Meghalaya side. We assume that earth-cutting on the hills have triggered the problem,” Kro told The Shillong Times.

Tamulikuchi is about 24 km from Guwahati.

The district administration had carried out an eviction earlier in the year, but the drain from Jorabat leading up to the Digaru river remains clogged.

Thromen Sangma and Meera Kropi, both residents of the area, also echoed Kro on the lack of amenities and negligence on the part of the MLA (Dispur constituency) so far.

“The flood, which saw chest-deep water in portions, had damaged property worth several lakh rupees. Besides, water scarcity remains an issue. After repeated pleas went in vain, many residents here had to arrange pipes from their end for drinking water, which however is not safe for health,” Kro said, as he waited for his turn at the polling station at Tamulikuchi Lower Primary School.

Asked if there was any border-related issue that remains unaddressed, he pointed out that an area near the old Burnihat road that belongs to Assam is “under Meghalaya”. “There was a bridge there. But after it broke, the area happens to be under Meghalaya. Even the power lines belong to Meghalaya,” Kro said.

There are about 14,000 voters under No 55 Kamarkuchi Gaon Panchayat with candidates from BJP and Congress as the major parties in the fray.

Polling gathered momentum by noon with men, women and several young voters turning up to cast their vote in the polling booths from Eight Mile to 15 Mile area.

Seventy-two-year-old Redminton Sangma of 12 Mile, Ampher, hoped that things would turn for the better this time. “Yes, the panchayat elections were due in February. But the delay apart, what concerns us is that basic amenities such as roads and bridges have eluded us for too long,” Sangma said.

Biju Sharma, 26, a small-time trader from Amerigog, said that he wanted to make his vote count this time.

“This was my second chance and I had to pick a candidate who in my opinion could deliver. In the rural polls, I believe that more than the party, the candidate matters. Apart from basic amenities, we want housing schemes and pension for widows and senior citizens,” he said.

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