MANASH PRATIM DUTTA
GUWAHATI, Jan 5 - For a youth like Ajay Rabha, a resident of Satar Gaon located on the western outskirts of Guwahati, poverty has always posed a challenge in every step of his life. Still, he dreams of working on something different apart from his daily struggle to manage his bread and butter.
Satar Gaon is located near Deepor Beel, in the hills of Rani area, around 30 km from the Dispur capital complex. The village has 60 households and is covered from all sides by forests.
Poverty has led to a number of school dropouts in this village, which has only one lower primary school with two teachers and everyone has to travel a distance of more than 5 km to reach the nearby high school. In such a situation, Ajay is no different. His studies came to an end while he was in Class 10 and then he started working to earn money to help his family.
During the past nine months, he developed a new hobby – watching and identifying different species of butterflies found in his village and the nearby forest areas.
“The idea to carry out studies on butterfly found in and around my village came to my mind when I came in contact with some members of the Rongmon Eco-Tourism Society. Recently, Cotton University authorities provided me some books on butterflies,” Ajay, who also works at a cold drink bottling point at Rani, told The Assam Tribune.
In the past nine months, he has found more than 60 different species of butterflies, including many rare species. “I used to borrow cameras from others to take photographs of butterflies. Then I tried to identify them with the help of the books provided by Cotton University. My work is still in its initial stages and I want to work towards conservation of the biodiversity of my locality,” he said.
Ajay said forest fires caused by some people to clear the land for agriculture was now becoming a threat for butterflies. “I want to put an end to such practices. This biodiversity is an asset for our village. Every year, a number of tourists and environment lovers come here. In the future, I want to work as a guide for them,” said Ajay.
However, the story is not the same for other youths of the village.
“I could not continue my studies after Class 10 due to the poor road connectivity. So I decided to start earning. I was good in studies. But due to the poor roads, I missed many classes during the rainy season which hampered my studies. Now I want to continue my studies through the distance mode,” said another youth, Rajesh Rabha, who works as a contractual employee at the LGBI airport.
Satar Gaon got a blacktopped road for the first time last year, which has now created new hope for everyone, especially the youth. The village has no electricity supply and a solar panel set up by the Rongmon Tourism Society is the only source of power at night. Many youths alleged that their village was yet to get any benefit from the various development schemes of the government.
“Due to financial constraints, the boys of our village quit studies after Class 10 or Higher Secondary. But, the girls are different. They are continuing their studies by overcoming all challenges,” Rajesh added.
Some school dropouts are still hopeful of resuming their studies and becoming at least a graduate. “As the road conditions have improved, I am planning to resume my studies. I had quit school after Higher Secondary. Hope my dream comes true,” said Bandana Rabha, a girl from the village.