BARPETA, Dec 1 – Certain areas in Barpeta and Baksa districts have not been connected by roads till now. Besides there are some areas where the people have lost the existing surface communication network due to natural or man- made reasons. Neither the elected representatives or the officials of the respective departments have ever cared to address the woes of the suffering public in such areas.
The bridge over Pahumara river near Kathalmurighat in Barpeta district was washed away by devastating floods in 2004. Since then, people of nearly 50 villages under Bhabanipur, Sarbhog and Partacharkuchi constituencies of Barpeta and adjoining Baksa districts have to cross the river by boats in summer and over a bamboo bridge in winter. They have to pay the lessee a certain amount for this service. There is no question of driving any kind of four-wheelers all the year, not to speak of any heavy vehicle.
The bridge over the Rupahi river, near Chenglimari, a km away from the previous one was allegedly set ablaze by miscreants in 1994. It followed the homicide in that area in 1994, where hundreds of innocent people lost their lives. But it is a matter of regret that successive governments have not cared to take any steps to reconstruct the bridge during the last 20 years.
Roads on both sides of Pahumara and the western side of Rupahi bridge have been constructed under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana. But the roads will lead the travellers only to the broken bridges, ridiculing all-weather pitch roads. The roads connect the Pathsala-Bhutan National Highway on the east and Bhabanipur-Salbari-Rupahi road on the west.
There are a number of villages situated on both sides of the river and in the middle of the two. While some are under Barpeta district, some are under Baksa district in BTAD. Most of the villagers of Chenglimari, Dhumarpathar, Pakriguri, Kathalmurighat, Holongbari, Silapatni etc., in the western part of Rupahi have to travel to Pathsala for their day-to-day activities and official assignments.
People of Baksa district have to go to Jalah as both the development blocks and the Block Elementary Education Office are situated at Jalah. Similarly, people living in Batiamari, Natun Barala, Charna, Paschim Kathalmuri and Sastor etc., to the east of Pahumara have to travel to Salbari, as it is now one of the sub-divisional head quarters of Baksa district.
Besides, the villagers of Barpeta district have to come to Barpeta. They have no other option but to travel either through the hazardous bamboo bridge or towards Bhabanipur for the people of the west and Pathsala for the people of the east, meaning a journey of another 40 kms.
As a result, most people avoid travelling, except on the most essential ones. This has snapped the emotional relations among the people of this area in spite of being neighbours. Rajib Talukdar, an educated youth who works in a Central Government undertaking, and is a resident of Kathalmurighat while talking to this correspondent, acknowledged that he has not visited Salbari since he has grown up because of the strenuous journey, though it is only less than two kms away from home. It clearly reflects the reluctance of the people to travel along the aforementioned route.
The residents of the area are mostly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. But the cultivators are deprived of due prices for their produce only because of the dilapidated roads and broken bridges, as no goods carrier can drive across the two rivers. Students have to suffer a lot as there is no good educational institution in the locality, and they have to travel to Pathsala.
These two bridges are very much important for the security of this trouble-torn area. An uneasy calm prevails in some villages throughout the year. A fear psychosis always prevails in the minds of some people since they lost everything, including kith and kin in the ethnic violence in 1994 and face similar threats now and then. It is also important for the conservation of the Manas National Park as well.
Taking advantage of the disrupted communication network, smugglers and poachers generally use this route knowing fully well that the security forces will not reach them instantly.
Though the people of this area have been demanding the construction of the bridges for several years, the Government has not attended to the demands. Though most of the villages in these areas are under Baksa district of BTAD, both the bridges fall under the jurisdiction of Barpeta.
It is earnestly hoped that the public representatives will raise the matter in the proper forum so as to solve the long-pending requirements of the people.