GUWAHATI, May 23 - It’s a telltale of sheer wastage of public money by the government and how promises of tea tribes’ welfare have, over the years, remained just a lip service. Half of the hostels constructed in Assam over the years for boys and girls of tea tribes are defunct as on date.
There are 43 boys and girls hostels meant for tea tribes under the Directorate of Welfare of Tea Garden & Ex Tea Garden Tribes – ten in Dibrugarh, six in Sonitpur, five each in Tinsukia and Kokrajhar, three each in Sivasagar and Jorhat, two each in Nagaon, Guwahati and Cachar, and one each in Golaghat, Karbi Anglong, Udalguri, Hailakandi and Karimganj. Some of them were constructed more than six to seven years back.
An official told The Assam Tribune that as on date, an “overwhelming number” of these hostels are lying in abandoned state.
“One primary reason why the hostels have not been occupied is the location. Most of them have been constructed in inconvenient locations – away from towns, educational institutions or in secluded places. No one is willing to stay in these hostels. It is as if the buildings were constructed just for the benefit of the contractors,” sources said.
Some do not have electricity, while construction of a few has been not been completed even after years of sanction.
Another reason for the hostels remaining non-functional is lack of caretakers.
Sources said the directorate is now contemplating on making an assessment of the hostels and see if they can be put to any use.
Assam Tea Tribes Students Association president Rajen Kumar has demanded an audit of the project – how much money was put into the projects and whether the hostels were actually need-based.
“We agree that students are reluctant to live in some of the hostels because of the location. Even those which have been occupied do not have proper infrastructure. A proper audit should be done on the implementation of the hostel scheme,” Kumar said when asked to comment.